Sick prisoner Mehmet Emin Özkan (83), currently serving time for the 1993 murder of a brigadier general in southeastern Diyarbakır’s (Amed) Lice district, had trouble responding to questions by a judge due to hearing loss as the court assessed lawyers’ appeals for his release, Mezopotamya Agency reported on Thursday.
The court cited the Forensic Medicine Institute’s (ATK) report that Özkan could remain in prison in its refusal to grant the appeal, while Özkan had to attend the hearing via video conferencing from his prison cell in Diyarbakır due to health problems.
The elderly prisoner was also asked to provide a counter-statement to the ATK report.
Özkan has been behind bars for 26 years, and currently suffers from kidney, heart and intestinal issues. Özkan has had five heart attacks in prison and four bouts of angina. His lawyers have appealed to the Constitutional Court (AYM), which rejected one appeal in August and has not yet responded to another appeal.
Lawyer Serdar Çelebi said the legal team had been waiting for a decision on a retrial since 2014. Özkan’s team is confident the man had nothing to do with the crime at hand.
Daughter Selma Özkan told Mezopotamya that her father could no longer express himself.
Turkish law only allows reports by the ATK to be submitted as evidence in such appeals for release. Institute personnel are appointed by the Justice Ministry directly, and infamously issue drastically different reports on political prisoners compared to others by public hospitals, according to Turkish Medical Association (TTB) Chair Şebnem Korur Fincancı.
There are over 1,500 sick prisoners in Turkish prisons, 651 of whom suffer from severe conditions, according to April 2022 data by the Human Rights Association (İHD). At least 22 prisoners have lost their lives behind bars in the past year out of 45 inmates whose appeals for release have been rejected.