Investigation launched into suspicious death of Palestinian man in Turkish prison

A Turkish prosecutor has launched an investigation into the suspicious death of Nabeel Hasan, a Palestinian national, in a Turkish prison less than a week after he was arrested for involvement in a fight in İstanbul’s Başakşehir district, Turkish Minute reported on Wednesday.

According to Halk TV, 11 people, most of whom were foreign nationals, were involved in a fight in Başakşehir on May 29. A police officer also intervened in the altercation. Three Palestinians, including 20-year-old Hasan, who stabbed Hussam Aldeen A. during the fight, were arrested afterward.

The police who arrived at the scene took the three Palestinians to the police station. During the ride in the police vehicle, the three young men were allegedly mistreated. After completing the necessary procedures at the station, they were transferred to the courthouse by another police team that also allegedly mistreated them during the journey.

The young men, who were arrested on charges of “armed robbery” by the Küçükçekmece 1st Criminal Court of Peace, were sent to Maltepe No.1 L Type Closed Prison in İstanbul.

According to the allegations in the investigation launched by the İstanbul Anatolian Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office into Hasan’s death, two police officers who had previously threatened the three young men during their transfer to the courthouse and prison, openly discussed a plan with the prison guard on duty. Subsequently, Hasan was taken to a room where he was instructed to remove his clothes and was subjected to a beating for approximately 10 minutes.

According to statements in the investigation file quoted by Halk TV: “The sound of beating, hitting the wall … and Nabeel Hasan’s screams were heard by his friends and other inmates. The suspect police officer, who constantly used profanity, told the prison guard, ‘You keep taking care of it,’ when he left the room.”

According to the allegations, Hasan, who was continuously screaming, suddenly became silent, and the prison guards dragged him to where his friends were. Other inmates witnessed that Hasan’s head was visibly swollen and bleeding in places. They also reported that he was semi-conscious. They themselves were allegedly subjected to similar beatings and insults afterward.

On June 5, five days after the incident in the prison, the news of Hasan’s death reached his family in Başakşehir. The next day a court issued a release order for Hasan and the two other Palestinians due to the lack of concrete evidence for the armed robbery charges.

After their friend died behind bars, Obada Khaled Saleh Hihi and Mohammed Bekaie were held at the Güneşli Police Station until June 15, despite the release order. These two were subsequently transferred to an anti-migrant smuggling department in the Tuzla district of İstanbul. However, following an appeal made by their lawyers, Hihi and Bekaie were finally released on July 11.

A report drafted by Turkey’s Human Rights Association (İHD) revealed earlier this week that at least 10,789 rights violations took place in 153 prisons in 58 provinces across Turkey last year.

Regarding torture, ill-treatment allegations and degrading practices in prisons, the İHD said there had been at least 308 violations last year, including 272 related to physical assault, threats and verbal abuse and 36 related to provocative behavior exhibited by prison guards.

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