Ailing 84-year-old inmate not released despite suffering heart attack in his cell 

An ailing 84-year-old man serving a sentence on conviction of links to the Gülen movement has not been released from prison even after suffering a heart attack in his cell, the Kronos news website reported.

Halil Karakoç is incarcerated in İzmir’s Menemen Prison despite suffering from multiple health problems such as heart and kidney disease, diabetes and prostate complications. Karakoç has been behind bars since January 6, 2021 and has required frequent medical treatment.

Karakoç was earlier taken to the ATK to determine if he was fit to remain in prison. According to the council he could stay in the prison infirmary and was denied release.

Karakoç, a retired imam, was arrested in December 2020 and sentenced to seven years, six months in prison. He was accused of having a bank account in the now-closed Banka Asya, which was linked to the Gülen movement. He was also accused of attending events organized by movement members.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

Eleven prisoners have died of serious illness this year, Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a lawmaker from the Green Left Party (YSP) and a prominent human rights advocate, earlier said.

According to the Human Rights Association (İHD), there were 1,517 sick inmates in Turkish detention facilities as of December 2022, 651 of whom were critically ill. 

The report noted that sick inmates face a number of difficulties such as overcrowded wards, heating problems, delayed admission to the infirmary, an insufficient number of doctors, delayed referrals to the hospital and a lack of nutritious food, clean water and adequate exercise.

Although most of the seriously ill patients have forensic and medical reports deeming them unfit to remain in prison, they are not released. Authorities refuse to free them on the grounds that they pose a potential danger to society.

Human rights activists and opposition politicians have frequently criticized authorities for not releasing seriously ill prisoners so they can seek proper treatment. 

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