A Turkish court on Nov. 10 sentenced Başak Demirtaş, the wife of jailed prominent Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtaş, to two years and six months in prison on allegations that she had “obtained a false health report” when she was serving as a teacher for the Education Ministry.
Demirtaş's lawyers said that the ruling of the Diyarbakır 6th Heavy Penal Court was unlawful and drew attention to the timing of the decision.
“It is not a coincidence that the decision has been issued in these days when Başak Demirtaş has come to the agenda and is being targeted; it is a product of a collective punishment understanding,” the lawyers said in a statement on Nov. 11.
The investigation against Demirtaş was launched on March 3, 2018, on allegations that a health report from 2015 was prepared “contrary to facts.”
At the time Demirtaş was going through health problems, with hospital records showing that she was examined by doctors on several dates in 2015. On two of these dates, she even went through surgery.
When her treatment extended, she took an unpaid leave of absence in the second semester of the 2015-2016 academic year, so that the students would continue on with their education.
Amid ongoing health problems, Demirtaş received a health report from the Diyarbakır Kayapınar Family Health Center on Dec. 11, 2015 covering a period of five days. But, the report's date was mistakenly drafted to be Dec. 14, 2015. The difference of these three days resulted in an investigation to be launched against Demirtaş three years after the incident, in 2018.
Lawyers pointed out that although the Family Health Center's record book could confirm that Demirtaş was examined by the doctor on Dec. 11, 2015, a copy of the medical records was not sent to the court. “On top of that, the court gave its ruling without seeing the [Family Health Center] record book in which the real date was written,” the lawyers said, adding that they will appeal the decision at a higher court.
Meanwhile, the doctor who drafted the relevant health report has been sentenced to two years and six months in jail in the same investigation.
Last year, after serving as a teacher for 20 years, Demirtaş resigned from her job at the Education Ministry. In her resignation announcement, Deirtaş noted the difficulty of scheduling visits to her husband in Edirne Prison, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that she was not able to perform well at work under these circumstances.
Demirtaş at the time said that her husband's incarceration has also caused pro-government media outlets to target her as a teacher, as they have been asking students and colleagues questions about her.
Arrested in late 2016, Selahattin Demirtaş has spent his entire pre-trial and trial process in custody, and has not been released despite the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling that Ankara had violated his rights.