Health of severely disabled inmate is visibly deteriorating, says his lawyer

Ergin Aktaş, a severely disabled political prisoner, has contracted tuberculosis and COPD due to poor prison conditions, and his health is visibly deteriorating, according to his lawyer, the Bianet news website reported.

Aktaş was sentenced to two aggravated life sentences after his conviction in 2011 of links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and for attempting to “disrupt the unity and integrity of the state.”

Aktaş, who has no hands, is on the Human Rights Association’s (İHD) list of seriously ill prisoners. The Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) has reported six times that Aktaş is unable to take care of himself in prison.

Gülizar Tuncer, Aktaş’s lawyer, said she last visited her client on October 13 and learned that he had been admitted to the hospital several times for treatment. In addition, Tuncer said they have filed 18 applications for his release with the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), but all attempts have been unsuccessful despite the ATK reports.

Saying that the state is responsible for the deterioration of Aktaş’s health, Tuncer said her client has been left to die.

According to the most recent statistics published by the Human Rights Foundation (İHD), the number of sick prisoners in Turkey is in the thousands, more than 600 of whom are critically ill. 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.

A number of critically ill prisoners passed away in 2020 because they were not released in time to receive proper medical treatment. Three critically sick inmates died in the first three months of this year in prison.

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