Photos of former deputy policy inspector Mustafa Kabakçıoğlu, 44, who died in a quarantine cell in prison on August 29, have been revealed by Bold Medya, shedding light on the unsanitary conditions in which he was forced to live.
In the photographs Kabakçıoğlu’s lifeless body is seen in a chair in a sitting position, his head drooping back and his nails turned blue. The conditions of his prison cell were also photographed, revealing damp and filthy quarters and dirt on his T-shirt. It was obvious he used the trash bin as a dinner table and did not eat his last meal, seen in the photos untouched on top of the bin.
Kabakçıoğlu struggled with multiple health problems during his time in prison. Already an asthma patient, the purged officer reportedly lost 40 kilos and developed diabetes while serving time at the Gümüşhane E Type Closed Prison due to the poor conditions of the facility.
He started coughing on August 20 and was put in a solitary cell on suspicion of having contracted COVID-19. He was alone for the next nine days, and it was claimed that he died in his cell after heavy coughing that continued until morning.
A post-mortem COVID-19 test came back negative, which raised doubts about the conditions of his death. His family said they doubted he died on the chair or that he was able to press the help button.
The photos show he was sleeping on a mattress underneath the stairs. Kabakçıoğlu was claimed to have previously fallen from the stairs after he lost consciousness, so he preferred not going up to the second floor to sleep in the bunk bed.
Kabakçıoğlu was a decorated officer. He was arrested in July 2016 and was summarily dismissed from his job in September 2016 for alleged membership to the Gülen movement. He was sentenced to seven years, six months in prison.
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.
His donations to a charity organization, witness testimony claiming he went to religious meetings and the ByLock application that was installed on his phone were presented as evidence. ByLock is an encrypted messaging app used in smartphones and was available on Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Turkish authorities claim that ByLock is a communication tool exclusively used by members of the Gülen movement to ensure the privacy of their conversations.
A petition Kabakçıoğlu wrote to the prison doctor two days before his death was also found. In the petition, he said although he was taking the medications prescribed, he was not feeling better. He added that he experienced swelling in his mouth and legs and that he had difficulty speaking and walking.
There was also a previous note from the doctor attached to the petition, in which he asked for Kabakçıoğlu to be taken to a hospital immediately.
Thinking that his death was not due to the coronavirus, Kabakçıoğlu’s family filed a criminal complaint with the Gümüşhane Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office demanding that the parties responsible for the imprisoned police officer’s death be found and punished.
There has been an increase in the number of suspicious deaths in Turkey, most of them occurring in prisons and detention centers, where torture and ill treatment are routinely practiced. In the majority of cases authorities classified these deaths as suicides without any effective, independent investigation. Suspicious deaths have also taken place beyond prison walls amid psychological pressure and threats of imprisonment and torture, sometimes following the release of suspects or just before their detention.
The true number of deaths during a state of emergency declared in Turkey in July 2016 is still unknown. According to SCF’s Suspicious Deaths And Suicides In Turkey list, there are nearly 200 recorded suspicious deaths occurring in prisons and detention centers.