Ailing 83-year-old inmate wants to see his village before dying in prison: daughter

Mehmet Emin Özkan, an 83-year-old inmate who suffers from severe health problems, wants to see his village before he dies in prison, his daughter Selma told the Mezopotamya news agency (MA).

The Adana 7th High Criminal Court denied Özkan release at a hearing on September 15.

Selma Özkan has called on Turkish authorities to release her father.

Özkan, who has been in prison for the past 25 years, has suffered four heart attacks. He has other health problems as well, such as high blood pressure, toxic goiter, osteoporosis, kidney disease, memory loss and loss of hearing and sight. He is unable to take care of his basic daily needs, so a cellmate assists him.

Özkan was sentenced to aggravated life for alleged membership in the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). He was found responsible for the death of Brig. Gen. Bahtiyar Aydın in October 1993.

Özkan denies any responsibility in the incident, and a court in May ruled for a retrial.

The charges against Özkan were based on two witness testimonies that were later recanted. In a 2014 indictment for what is known as the “Lice trial,” the Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor’s Office said there was no tangible evidence that Özkan had ever taken part in terrorist activities. The trial concerned the alleged illegal activities of gendarmerie intelligence units known as JİTEM.

The PKK has been waging an armed insurgency against Turkey’s security forces since the ’80s in a campaign that has claimed the lives of some 40,000 people. The group is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the European Union and the US.

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