Ali Koca (51), a former teacher who was convicted of alleged membership in the Gülen movement, was allowed to attend his daughter’s funeral on Saturday in handcuffs and surrounded by gendarmes, Bold Medya reported.
His daughter Ayşe Koca (21), a medical student, was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer in November 2019. She did not inform her father, Ali Koca (51), about the severity of her illness as he was serving a seven-year, six-month prison sentence. Ayşe Koca’s condition took a turn for the worse 17 days ago, and she lost consciousness. Ali Koca was permitted to see his daughter only once in this period, and although the court extended his furlough, the prosecutor blocked it from taking effect.
Although doctors said his daughter had little time left to live, Ali Koca was only allowed to visit his daughter once a month. He applied to the Supreme Court of Appeals to be released during his daughter’s treatment. According to a clause in the Turkish Penal Code, if a convict’s close relative is terminally ill their sentence can be postponed for a year. The clause exempts those convicted on terrorism charges from benefiting from this right.
Koca’s application was rejected on this basis. The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, of masterminding a coup attempt in July 2016 and labels it a terrorist organization. The movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.
Hilal Kaplan, an influential pro-government journalist, had claimed on social media that Ali Koca was using his daughter’s illness as propaganda for his release.
Other violations of prisoners’ right to be with their sick relatives in their last moments have taken place recently. Last month, Muhammed Macit, a second lieutenant in the Turkish military who was convicted on coup charges, was not allowed to attend his wife’s funeral after the public prosecutor denied his request.
Last year, Turkish lawyer Selçuk Kozağaçlı, president of the now-closed Progressive Lawyers Association (ÇHD) who has been behind bars since November 2017 on terrorism charges, was allowed to attend the funeral of his father in handcuffs.
Following the coup attempt, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and launched a massive crackdown on followers of the Gülen movement under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. Over 540,000 people were detained on terrorism-related charges, more than 80,000 were arrested or imprisoned and over 150,000 public servants were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations.” The purge mainly targeted people who were allegedly affiliated with the Gülen movement but included other people from a wide variety of backgrounds as well.