Ailing former police chief dies of heart attack in prison vehicle

Former police chief Necip Bulut, 50, an inmate who suffered from cardiac disease, died of a heart attack on Wednesday in a prison vehicle on his way to a hospital in the western Turkish province of İzmir, the Kronos news website reported.

Bulut worked in Erzurum before he was dismissed from his job by an emergency decree on October 29, 2016 as part of a purge of state institutions following a July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey.

Bulut was arrested in 2018 due his alleged links to the Gülen movement and was sentenced to six years in prison, where his health deteriorated.

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.

According to Bulut’s family he had undergone bypass surgery last year and had been handcuffed to his bed for two months during his post-op recovery in the hospital. Bulut told his family that he suffered from ill treatment because of the handcuffs and was traumatized during his stay.

Bulut, a father of three, told his family four days before his death during a visit that he had a serious problem with his heart once again after the surgery and had to go to a hospital. The family stated that his health had deteriorated visibly in a short period of time and that he had lost a lot of weight.

Speaking to Kronos, a friend of Bulut said his family repeatedly asked authorities to at least allow him to be cared for at home, but they refused. Bulut was due to complete his sentence in six months’ time.

According to Turkey’s Human Rights Association (İHD), there are at least 1,517 sick inmates in Turkish prisons, 651 of whom are seriously ill.

The İHD report revealed 39 of 76 inmates who died in prison in 2022 were critically ill. Speaking to DW, İHD Chairman Öztürk Türkdoğan said the number of ailing prisoners and the death toll could be much higher than the report indicated. Türkdoğan described the situation as a “structural problem.”

Critics have slammed Turkish authorities for refusing to release critically ill prisoners. Human rights defender and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said critically ill political prisoners were not released from prison “until it reaches the point of no return.” He depicted the deaths of seriously ill prisoners in Turkey who are not released in time to receive proper medical treatment as acts of “murder” committed by the state.

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