Turkish hospital ignores 83-year-old prisoner's severe heart disease, says 'mentally fit to stay in jail'

A Diyarbakır hospital has not assessed an 83-year-old sick prisoner's heart disease in its medical report, but instead gave an opinion on just his mental wellbeing. Referring him to Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institute, the hospital said that the prisoner, who has suffered five heart attacks, is “mentally fit enough” to stay in jail.

Duvar English

A hospital in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır has issued a medical report finding it “appropriate” for an 83-year-old prisoner with severe heart problems to continue staying in jail.

The medical board of the Diyarbakır Gazi Yaşargil Training and Research Hospital only assessed prisoner Mehmet Emin Özkan's psychological state and advised him to get psychiatric support, said Mezopotamya news agency reported on June 25.

The hospital medical board said that Özkan needs to be checked by the Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institute for a ruling on his heart condition.

Özkan is planned to be taken to Istanbul on June 28 in line with the board's decision.

Özkan has been in prison for 25 years and so far suffered five heart attacks, but hasn't been granted an early release. Due to his deteriorating health condition, he has been hospitalized for seven times in the last month.

He was recently transported to the hospital on foot and handcuffed, despite visibly struggling to stand and walk, which drew severe condemnation from human rights activists.

He is serving a life sentence in the Diyarbakır Prison on charges of killing Bahtiyar Aydın, Diyarbakır Gendarmerie Regional Commander on October 22, 1993, which took place in Lice district of Diyarbakır.

Some 21 NGOs have recently issued a statement calling on the Justice Ministry to grant Özkan an early release, citing his serious health problems.

The statement noted that Özkan had lost his sense of sight and hearing to a great extent, and could no longer meet his own needs as he needed constant medical care.

“Despite his diagnosed serious health problems, the fact that M. Emin Özkan is still kept in jail and is transferred to a hospital only when his health gets to a critical point and then is transferred back to the jail, shows that torture and bad treatment have turned into a systematic situation,” their statement said.