Paralyzed man found ‘fit to remain in prison’ by forensic medicine council

The İstanbul Council of Forensic Medicine said a paralyzed inmate with several health problems was “fit to remain in prison,” despite acknowledging in its report that they were unaware of conditions in the prison.

According to Bold Medya, the council said, “The inmate can remain in prison on the condition that he is taken to the hospital on a regular basis to receive his treatment,” adding that the Justice Ministry is better suited to make the final decision because they have more information on prison conditions.

The inmate, Ali Yılmaz, is paralyzed on the left side of his body, has a brain tumor and suffers from frequent epileptic seizures. According to Begüm Yılmaz, his daughter, Yılmaz is barely able to walk and needs specially designed chairs and beds.

“According to the report, my father cannot use stairs, cannot use his left hand and cannot sleep on a standard bed or sit on a standard chair,” she said. “Maybe we can accommodate his needs at home, but prison conditions are definitely not accommodating. How can he take care of himself when he is supposed to even wash his own clothes?”

Begüm added that her father was placed in a quarantine after every visit to the hospital. She said the ward was crowded, unhygienic, did not have running water and was not properly heated. Begüm said she was worried her father’s health would deteriorate under these conditions.

“My father had already lost 35 kilograms, and he is still losing weight in prison,” she said.

Quarantine wards in Turkish prisons are notorious for their poor conditions and overcrowding.

Yilmaz, a former teacher, was dismissed by a government decree in 2016. He was arrested on November 10, 2020 for alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

Human rights activists and opposition politicians have frequently criticized authorities for not releasing critically ill prisoners, so they can seek proper treatment. Human rights defender and Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, said ill prisoners were not released until they were at a point of no return.

According to Gergerlioğlu, sick prisoners are released when the authorities realize they will die soon. He said this was especially the case for prisoners arrested on politically motivated charges.

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