Kurdish politician must be released urgently to receive dementia treatment, lawyer says

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A lawyer for a former pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) politician whose continued detention was ordered by a Turkish court last week despite claims that she has dementia, says she must be released immediately to receive proper treatment, Turkish Minute reported.

Deputy co-president of the HDP before her arrest in 2016, Tuğluk, 57, was arrested for her activities within the Democratic Society Congress (DTK), an organization considered by the Turkish authorities to be linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK ), which is classified as a terrorist organization by Ankara and its Western allies.

She was sentenced in 2018 to 10 years in prison for “belonging to a terrorist organization”.

Although her release was ordered in a separate case, an Ankara court ruled last week that she would remain in prison due to her 2018 conviction.

The former politician’s lawyer, Serdar Çelebi, said following Friday’s ruling that it was delivered despite the fact that “the judges saw with their own eyes that Ms Tuğluk did not understand the questions which were put to him and was unable to present a defence”.

“But they refused to consider the reports we submitted and transfer her to a hospital,” he added.

Speaking to Cumhuriyet daily on Thursday, Çelebi again stressed that Tuğluk was not in a position to be left alone outside, let alone in jail.

“She cannot meet any of her needs on her own. She must be released from prison immediately for treatment,” the lawyer said, adding, “As in the case of Çevik Bir, a person with dementia cannot stay in prison.

The lawyer was referring to the case of Bir, then Chief of the General Staff, who was sentenced to life in 2018 for his role in the 1997 post-modern coup and was released from prison on charges of dementia at the beginning of the month.

Bir, among others, has been accused of “forming criminal associations to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey” in a case that tackles the infamous February 28, 1997 military intervention, often described as a “postmodern coup”, which did not result in direct military rule, but forced the late Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan to resign after the National Security Council (MGK) issued a memorandum.

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