Burcu Özkaya Günaydın / DUVAR
A 65-year old cancer patient, Hayrettin Yılmaz, died in prison on March 14 after the prison administration refused to release him on grounds of "procedure" despite the COVID-19 pandemic and his severe medical condition.
Having served a sentence of more than 10 years, Yılmaz was unable to reunite with his family prior to his death, as the prison failed to release him despite him not being able to speak, walk or eat.
"They should have let him go. They kept citing 'procedure.' This man couldn't eat or speak. We told them he needs to be hand-fed and cared for. They just said 'procedure,'" said his daughter Berav Yılmaz.
Her father was in a wheelchair the last time Yılmaz and her brother visited him, and he couldn't breathe or talk, she said, adding that he had less than one year left on his sentence.
Held in western Afyonkarahisar Prison, the 65-year-old had other ailments besides lung cancer, and the family was confident in expecting his release, Yılmaz said.
The prison administration moved up a board hearing to decide on Hayrettin Yılmaz's release to March 15, a day after he died, his daughter said.
"The prison director told my brother that we should be grateful. I don't know what for," Yılmaz said. "I knew he died when my mother told me my father was released. My father's lifeless body was released. Is that what we should be grateful for?"
The Human Rights Association (İHD) held a press conference on March 13, a day before Hayrettin Yılmaz died, urging for his immediate release.
Yılmaz's case is one among a string of failures by the courts to release sick prisoners.