Turkish police’s action raises suspicions over 59-year-old detainee Türkel’s death under custody

Davut Türkel

59-year-old detainee Davut Türkel’s doubtful death under police custody was started to be investigated without performing an autopsy on his body. According to a report of examination of corpse, the authorities did not consider doing an autopsy as necessary by noting that there were no common symptoms of trauma and proof of intoxication on the body.

According to a news story published by Aktif Haber news portal, the police officers have began to conduct an investigation into the skeptical death of Davut Türkel despite the fact that authorities did not regard performing an autopsy as important.

It was mentioned that immediately releasing Türkel from custody is a part of an effort to cover up the fact that he died under doubtful conditions as he was under the police custody for more than a week. It was also underlined that making a decision of discharging Türkel from custody promptly after his demise raises doubts over the leading cause of his death.

It was claimed that Türkell’s fall down from the stairs of the courthouse is unthinkable on the basis of the fact that the detainees’ arms have been hold by police officers or gendarmeries during the transfers of the detainees from detention centers to the courthouse.

Türkel was detained by security forces in the province of Antalya on July 13 together with 90 others, who used to be members of a labor union called AKÇA-DER in an investigation as part of Turkey government’s post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement. He was kept under police custody for days and was transferred to the courthouse for the first time on 12nd day of his detention. However, he was suspiciously died before he could defend himself before the court.

It was stated by police that Türkel fell down from the stairs and hit his head to the floor at the courthouse before he was seen by the judge. Following the incident he was transferred to the hospital and stayed in the intensive care unit at an Antalya hospital until demise on August 3.

Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) has reported in its study on March 2017 titled “Suspicous Deaths and Suicides In Turkey” that there has been an increase in the number of suspicious deaths in Turkey, most in Turkish jails and detention centers where a torture and ill-treatment is being practiced. In most cases, authorities concluded these as suicides without any effective, independent investigation.

The suspicious death has also taken place beyond the prison walls amid psychological pressure and threats of imminent imprisonment and torture, sometimes following the release of suspects or just before the detention. SCF has compiled 87 cases of suspicious death and suicides in Turkey in a list in a searchable database format.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch AKP government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup. Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15.

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