Aysel Tuğluk to be re-examined for fitness for detention

In the case of the Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk, who is suffering from chronic and progressive Alzheimer's dementia in prison, the Institute of Forensic Medicine is to conduct a new examination of her fitness for detention.

In the case of the Kurdish politician Aysel Tuğluk, who is suffering from dementia in prison, a new examination of her fitness for detention will be conducted. According to her defence lawyer Reyhan Yalçındağ, a competent court ordered a three-week placement in the Institute of Forensic Medicine (ATK). Tuğluk is expected to be transferred to the Istanbul facility in the coming week. Previously, several requests to the ATK High Council for another detention examination had fallen on deaf ears.

"The decision for a further examination by the ATK could only be obtained through public pressure," said Alaattin Tuğluk, brother of the 56-year-old politician, paying tribute to national and international initiatives for the release of his sister. A fair decision must be made "before it gets to a point of no return", Tuğluk said, warning that his sister's health situation was worsening with each additional day in prison. "Aysel is losing her ability to speak, she forgets things she said shortly before and her motor skills are severely limited. Physically, however, she is doing well under the circumstances," said Alaattin Tuğluk.

The lawyer, former member of parliament and deputy HDP chairperson Aysel Tuğluk has been in prison since the end of 2016. She has already been convicted in several cases, other trials are still pending. In February 2020, the Turkish Court of Appeal upheld Tuğluk's highest prison sentence to date, of ten years' imprisonment. She was convicted of "directing a terrorist organisation" due to her role as co-chair of the grassroots alliance "Democratic Society Congress" (DTK). In October last year, a court in Van imposed a twenty-month prison sentence for alleged PKK propaganda in 2012 and 2013. In the so-called Kobanê trial in Ankara, Aysel Tuğluk also faces an aggravated life sentence.

Forensic Medicine as a Political Institution

Last March, a report prepared by nine experts from the forensic department of Kocaeli University stated that Aysel Tuğluk was no longer fit to be imprisoned due to chronic and progressive Alzheimer's dementia and should be released from prison immediately. The competent ATK, an institution of the Ministry of Justice, has made a contrary determination and has so far seen no reason for a suspension of the execution of the sentence. The Institute of Forensic Medicine did not even respond to a court-ordered detention examination in the context of the Kobanê trial at the end of October. In December, Reyhan Yalçındağ then applied for a third expert opinion, which was granted. A committee was set up at the state hospital in Kocaeli and Aysel Tuğluk's condition was re-examined. Based on the results of this report, the ATK apparently felt compelled to agree to an in-depth examination of Tuğluk's fitness for detention.