Turkish court upholds prison sentence for Medical Association chair Fincancı

An appeals court in Turkey on Jan. 27 upheld the two-year eight-month prison sentence given to Turkish Medical Association (TTB) chair Şebnem Korur Fincancı on charge of “terror organization propaganda.” 

Duvar English

An appeals court of Turkey on Jan. 27 concluded its review of the prison sentence given to Turkish Medical Association chair Şebnem Korur Fincancı and upheld her two-year, eight-month sentence for “propagandizing for an armed terror organization.” 

The court found that the local court ruling was not unlawful or disregarded any evidence and stated the evaluation was appropriate, according to reporting by online news outlet Artı Gerçek. 

The court thus rejected the appeals application, stating that the objections raised by Fincancı’s lawyers that maintained her words had to be considered under freedom of expression, were baseless. 

Police arrested TTB Chair Fincancı on Oct. 27, 2022, because of her remarks questioning the claims that the Turkish army used chemical weapons against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office had launched an investigation into Fincancı for her remarks "equating the legal self-defense" of the TSK and "the illegal activity" of the PKK. 

An Ankara court sentenced Fincancı to prison on Jan. 2023, and released her after over two months in prison. 

Whay happened?

At the time, media close to the PKK published videos which reportedly showed chemical weapons being used by the army against the PKK in northern Iraq. Several Turkish officials have denied the allegations in question, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

After the allegations, Fincancı said she examined the footage of the alleged use of chemical weapons and said, "Obviously, one of the toxic chemical gases that directly affects the nervous system was used. Although its use is prohibited, we see it used in conflicts.” Fincancı said independent delegations must carry out investigations in the region regarding the allegations.

Fincancı later said “As if I said that chemicals were used. I didn't say anything like that. I mean, (the footage shows) there might be a chemical effect. I say, 'This should be investigated.' In other words, it is not possible to say this in the footage.”

Fincancı's remarks drew attention from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its allies. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed his wish to change the structure of professional organizations so that they can “get rid of the supporters of terrorist organizations.” 

The leader of the far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) had said that Fincancı’s citizenship must be revoked during his party’s parliamentary group meeting. Bahçeli also called for the closure of the TTB.

Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said that it requested the court to dismiss Fincancı as the chair of the TTB and to elect a new president. Fincancı returned as the TTB president after her release.