Turkish court decides to hunger striker Gülmen in prison despite prosecutor’s request of release

An Ankara court rejected on Monday the request of prosecutor in charge for the release of Nuriye Gülmen, an academician who launched a hunger strike after being removed from the job as part of the government’s massive post-coup purge, based on the fact “there is no risk of escape.”

The Ankara 19th High Criminal Court held the fifth hearing in which hunger striking educators Gülmen and Semih Özakça are being tried on terror charges on Monday with the court ruling for the continuation of her arrest. In the court, prosecutor demanded the release of Gülmen on the grounds that there is no risk of her escape or spoliation of evidence. The hearing was adjourned to Dec. 1 2017.

Giving her defense by video link from her hospital room, Gülmen said her right to defense had been violated in the case. “In order to defend myself effectively, I want to be released and I want to give my defense statement in the hearing myself,” she said.

“There was a new development this week: The State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission is expected to make a decision. Our application is expected to be one of the first decisions. If I am reinstated to my post I do not want to continue to be subjected to conditions of imprisonment,” Gülmen added.

“I have experienced a process that is like torture. I have been here (at hospital) for two months,” she said.

Gülmen and Özakça have been on hunger strike for over 250 days, in protest at their dismissal from their posts following the July 2016 coup attempt. They were arrested in May 2017 on terror charges while they were conducting a sit-in protest in Ankara’s central Kızılay neighborhood.

They continued their hunger strike in Sincan Prison before Gülmen was taken first to Sincan Prison Hospital and then to Ankara’s Numune Hospital.

Özakça was released on probation on Oct. 20, 2017 while Gülmen continued to held in custody in the Numune Hospital’s high security intensive care unit.

Police detained 6 people who protested Gülmen’s imprisonment outside the court room.

The Turkish government started a crackdown on the opposition in the wake of the botched coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and arrested more than 50,000 and dismissed or suspended some 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants.

Gülmen and her fellow colleague Semih Özakça, who was also jailed along Gülmen and then released last month, launched a hunger strike in protest of their dismissal. Their cause has earned support from many circles of the society as many others have joined their protest over time.

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