59-years-old Davut Türkel was added to the list of those who suspiciously died under the custody of Turkish police in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
According to a Twitter account named “Antalya Mağdurları,” Türkel was detained by police in Antalya province on July 13 together with 90 others, who used to be members of a labor union called AKÇA-DER in an investigation as part of Turkish government’s post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement. He was kept under police custody for days and was transferred to the courthouse for the first time on 12nd day of his detention. However, he was suspiciously died in the courthouse before he could defend himself before the court.
It was stated by police that Türkel fell down from the stairs and hit his head to the floor at the courthouse before he was seen by the judge. Following the incident he was transferred to the hospital and stayed in the intensive care unit at an Antalya hospital until his demise on August 3.
It was claimed that Türkel’s falll down from the stairs of the courthouse is impossible basing on the fact that the detainees’ arms have been hold by police officers or gendarmeries during the transfers of the detainees from detention centers to the courthouse. It was also claimed that as Türkel’s treatment was being continued in the intensive care unit, the court immediately decided to release him as part of an effort to cover up the fact that he died under suspicious conditions as he was under the police custody.
Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has reported in its study on March 2017 titled “Suspicous Deaths and Suicides In Turkey” that there has been an increase in the number of suspicious deaths in Turkey, most in Turkish jails and detention centers where a torture and ill-treatment is being practiced. In most cases, authorities concluded these as suicides without any effective, independent investigation.
The suspicious death has also taken place beyond the prison walls amid psychological pressure and threats of imminent imprisonment and torture, sometimes following the release of suspects or just before the detention. SCF has compiled 86 cases of suspicious death and suicides in Turkey in a list in a searchable database format.
Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.
Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.