Former Supreme Court of Appeals judge tortured and mistreated in prison

hüsamettin-uğur

Nalan Dilara Uğur, daughter of former Supreme Court of Appeals judge Hüsamettin Uğur, has claimed in a series of tweets that her father was tortured, mistreated and threatened by prison guards.

According to Uğur, her father has been kept in solitary confinement in Keskin Prison in the Central Anatolian city of Kırıkkale for the past four years. In February he was called for a meeting by the head guard. He was beaten and threatened by five guards, including their boss, for an hour in a room without any cameras. Uğur said, “They left my father lying on the ground, beaten, and the head guard threatened him, saying, ‘Only your corpse will leave here.”

Hüsamettin Uğur was summarily dismissed from his position as a judge following a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016. He was sentenced to 10 years, six months’ imprisonment for membership in a terrorist organization. He is accused of membership in the faith-based Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the July 2016 attempted coup and labels it a “terrorist organization.” The movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity. To date, no democratic country has declared the movement a terrorist organization.

Since the coup attempt, more than 150,000 public servants have been removed from their jobs, including 4,175 judges and prosecutors. Hüsamettin Uğur and many other supreme court judges were arrested on the morning of July 16, immediately after the coup attempt. Turkish law stipulates that senior judges are to be tried by the Supreme Court of Appeals. Yet, against the provisions of the Turkish Constitution and the relevant laws, he was arrested by a junior judge at a lower court.

According to Nalan Dilara Uğur, while in custody her father and other judges were given no food or water for the first 35 hours. After spending four days in detention, they were taken to court for a pre-trial hearing. They were made to wait and spend the night in the courthouse halls in handcuffs. They tried to sleep by leaning on one another.

Lawyer and human rights defender Murat Akkoç claims that meeting rooms in prisons which are not equipped with cameras are regularly used for torture. According to Akkoç, these rooms are normally used by the guards for breaks. But in practice, senior guards also meet with prisoners there when needed.

According to Uğur following the torture the guards prepared a fake report claiming that her father headbutted them to prevent him from filing an official complaint. She said she had to take the matter to social media “because there is no law in this country. My father is held captive, threatened with his life, and official complaints are brushed under the carpet.” Uğur further claimed that her father is constantly intimidated in the prison and that the warden is aware of the torture her father has undergone.

At a press conference, human rights defender and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu said Hüsamettin Uğur was systematically targeted and that the warden had threatened him, saying: “We have declared war on you. Pull yourself together; otherwise, your daughter will get hurt.” Gergerlioğlu also said Uğur was not allowed to get a medical report and that his letters were confiscated to prevent him from telling his story.

Another human rights defender, Republican People’s Party deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu, also talked about Uğur’s case on his Internet channel and said he has shared the complaints with the director-general for prisons.

According to Nalan Dilara Uğur, her father is being targeted because of her previous tweets that put the “arbitrary and unlawful” practices of the prison administration under the spotlight.

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