Kurdish politician released from prison due to dementia faces new indictment

Turkish prosecutors have drafted a new indictment for a Kurdish politician who was recently released from prison because she was found unfit for incarceration due to dementia,  Turkish Minute reported, citing the Artı Gerçek news website.

Aysel Tuğluk, 57, was released from jail in northwest Turkey last month after a medical report said her dementia did not allow her to remain behind bars.

Tuğluk was the deputy co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) before her arrest in 2016. The politician’s release came following months of campaigning for her by rights activists and opposition politicians due to her medical condition.

In August Turkey’s Constitutional Court rejected a plea for her release even though she was diagnosed with dementia but ordered that she receive regular neurological and psychiatric treatment in a hospital.

However, Tuğluk faces new criminal charges in a freshly drafted indictment that seeks a prison sentence of up to 15 years for the ailing politician.

In the indictment, drafted by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in southeastern Turkey, Tuğluk is charged with terrorist organization membership based on witness testimony related to an incident in 2014.

According to the testimony of witness Turgut Taşkıran, a former militant of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Tuğluk and Faysal Sarıyıldız, both HDP deputies at the time, offered to help him when he was injured during an Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attack on the north Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani in 2014.

Taşkıran said in his testimony to the Adana Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office that Tuğluk and Faysal offered to help him get transferred to a hospital in the Kurdish-controlled city of Qamishli in northeast Syria from Suruç State Hospital in the southeastern Turkish province of Şanlıurfa.

Tuğluk was sentenced in 2018 to 10 years in prison for membership in a “terrorist organization.”

Her supporters believe she developed dementia after witnessing Turkish nationalists attack her mother’s 2017 funeral in Ankara, which the authorities allowed her to attend.

Tuğluk was arrested for her activities with the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), an organization that Turkish authorities consider linked to the PKK, which Ankara and its Western allies have blacklisted as a terrorist organization.

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