Turkish court orders release of prisoner after his death

A Turkish prisoner was allowed to be released from prison for medical treatment only after he had already died.

İbrahim Akbaba, a prisoner in Turkey’s Edirne prison in the northwest of the country, collapsed in the prison while he was being tried by via a video conferencing system by a judge located more than a thousand kilometers away in the southeastern town of Mardin.

The 70-year old Akbaba had been detained for the past year and a half with the accusations of helping PKK members, an outlawed armed group in Turkey, to cross the Turkey-Syrian border illegally.

On December 28, he collapsed shortly after entering the video conferencing room at Edirne Prison. Staff rushed him to hospital in the city of Edirne, which is located in the European portion of Turkey where he was declared dead despite the best efforts of medical staff to save him.

His mortal remains were then taken to his home town of Kızıltepe in the Mardin district, where he was then laid to rest.

Akbaba’s son Şehmuz was quoted by the Mesopotamia News Agency (MA) as saying: “As he fell on the ground, people along with him called out to my father but there was no voice from him. At that time, the judge asked “for him to be taken my father to infirmary. They tried to bring back him but this was not possible. Then we don’t know what happened. We learned that my father was taken to the hospital. Then we learned my father had died.”

The court then ordered the elder Akbaba’s release from prison during the “ongoing trial”on the grounds that he was dead.

 “Our lawyers made their application. Human Right Association of Turkey (İHD) asked for his release. Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) Deputy Ebru Günay told the TBMM (Turkish Grand National Assembly) of the situation by parliamentary question. His illness was known. My father would have not been released if this event (the death of the elder Akbaba) had not been happened.  Those responsible of the death have a mindset which include holding an old patient in prison. This is the ‘justice system of the government’. Those responsible are the judges of the Mardin 3rd Heavy Penal Court, the management of Edirne Prison and the Ministry of Justice. Despite all our effort they remained insensitive,” said Şehmuz Akbaba.

On the other hand the prosecutor contradicts with his claims.

The prosecutor’s office of Edirne Province released a statement about the allegations, which read: “Ibrahim Akbaba fell ill while he was connected to a court hearing via video conferencing system in Edirne prison. He was taken to hospital and the court adjourned the hearing after it requested a medical board report of Akbaba from the hospital. The health board of the hospital issued a report that his medical condition is good and the circumstances in the prison are not challenging him to stay further there. Although the medical report indicated that he may further stay in prison, the court released him on the same day considering the findings in the report, his age and no suspicion of being fugitive. He did not die on Dec 28, but on Dec 29.”

The statement says the reverse of the family’s allegations, but still bears some unclear points as    why Akbaba was still under prosecutor’s surveillance if he had already been released, and died not on Dec 28, but on Dec 29.

Akbaba’s son Sehmuz rebuts prosecutor’s office’s claims with the death report as well. He said, they buried his father on Dec 29, in Mardin, almost thousand kilometers far from Edirne, and a guardian’s name read on the report as who declared Ibrahim Akbaba’s death to his family. According to the report, which was shared by MA, Ibrahim Akbaba died on Dec 28 around 16.50 local time.

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