Inmate sentenced to solitary confinement despite severe disabilities in Istanbul

A man with severe disabilities was forced to remain in solitary confinement despite a forensic report that said he was unfit to care for himself. An appeals court in southeastern Mardin rejected his petition to delay serving his sentence on the grounds that he was a threat to public safety.

Hacı Bişkin / DUVAR

An inmate with severe disabilities in Istanbul's Metris Prison was forcibly placed in solitary confinement despite a doctor's orders and told his mother that he's going to die in there, as he can't care for himself.

"I haven't been able to visit my son in eight months because of the virus. He told me on the phone 'What difference does it make if I die today or tomorrow...'" Serdal Yıldırım's mother Fatma Izdırap told Duvar. 

Yıldırım was in a car accident prior to his incarceration and is paralyzed from the waist down. He was sentenced to nine years in prison for being a member of a terrorist organization, charges often deployed against critics of the government. 

An appeals court in his hometown of southeastern Mardin rejected Yıldırım's request to delay serving his sentence, and instead placed him in an Istanbul prison, on the opposite end of the country from his family. 

The appeals court in Mardin claimed that Yıldırım was a threat to public safety despite a forensic report that deemed him unfit to care for himself.

"My son couldn't possibly care for himself in that cell. I bathed and dressed him when he was home. What is he supposed to do now?" Yıldırım's mother asked.  

Yıldırım's attorneys will file a petition with the Constitutional Court in an attempt to delay his execution.

Meanwhile, pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) deputy Gülistan Kılıç Koçyiğit presented a series of parliamentary questions asking about Yıldırım, while also criticizing the government's correctional policies. 

The deputy noted that a probation law that aimed at reducing prison populations as a COVID-19 precaution neglected to release prisoners who needed it, like Yıldırım.

Additionally, Koçyiğit slammed the government's "Type R Prisons," a type of correctional facility that is claimed to include rehabilitation, but that the deputy said was a way of "keeping people who need to be in hospitals, in prison."