Wife of jailed former judge says husband was handcuffed to hospital bed after surgery

Former Judges Mustafa-Rabia Başer

Rabia Başer, a former judge and the wife of jailed judge Mustafa Başer, who is suffering from cancer and underwent major surgery in January, said her husband was handcuffed to the hospital bed after the operation, the Kronos news website reported.

Speaking to Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a human rights defender and lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Rabia Başer said her husband was sent back to the prison three days after the procedure.

Başer is not being released from prison despite the fact that he has been eligible for release on parole since September 2021, when he completed the mandatory time served.

She demanded her husband’s immediate release, saying his health had deteriorated dramatically and that he is unable to care for himself in prison.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) ruled in the case of Başer and Özçelik v. Türkiye that the pretrial detention of former judges Başer and Metin Özçelik was unlawful and lacked reasonable suspicion that a crime had been committed, saying that Turkey must pay 5,000 euros in non-pecuniary damages to the applicants.

In April 2015 Başer and Özçelik had unsuccessfully ruled for the release of 75 people, including Hidayet Karaca, the head of the now-closed opposition broadcaster Samanyolu TV, and police officers involved in December 2013 corruption investigations into relatives of cabinet members of then-prime minister and current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

In 2017 the judges were each sentenced to 10 years in prison for their alleged links to the Gülen movement. They had been imprisoned since May 2015 and were suspended from their jobs by the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK).

President Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013.

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. He 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.

In a recent joint letter addressed to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and members of the European Parliament, the European Judges for Democracy and Freedom (MEDEL) and other European judicial organizations published a statement from the Platform for an Independent Judiciary in Turkey that urged “the European institutions to take steps to restore the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Turkey and to cease all ill-treatment of imprisoned judges, prosecutors and lawyers.”

”At least we want authorities to act in line with regulations and respect the ECtHR decision,” Rabia Başer said.

Rabia Başer was also arrested after the coup attempt and released two years ago after serving a prison sentence of four-and-a-half years.

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