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Top court rules no rights violation in case of police chief found dead in jail

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Turkey’s Constitutional Court has ruled there was no rights violation concerning the imprisonment of a former police intelligence chief who was found dead in his prison cell in Ankara 40 days after his detention in 2018, Bold Medya reported.

Former police intelligence chief Zeki Güven was found dead in July 2018 in his cell at Ankara’s Sincan Prison. He had been dismissed from his position as assistant chief of police in Bolu province over links to the faith-based Gülen movement in 2015, and a detention warrant was later issued accusing him of being an “executive member of a terrorist organization.”

Turkish authorities believe the Gülen movement orchestrated a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.

According to an official statement, Güven died of a heart attack; however, given previous incidents and deaths in Turkish prisons, his death was considered suspicious.

An individual petition filed by Güven’s family at the Constitutional Court was rejected by the court, which ruled that the former police chief’s right to life was not violated during his imprisonment.

His family claimed in their petition to the top court that although Güven was suffering from high blood pressure, he was given his medication too late after his arrest, he was long denied the food required by his diet and did not receive a timely medical intervention during the alleged heart attack he suffered in prison. The family also complained that no investigation had been launched into the people whose negligence might have played a role in the death of the former police chief.

In May 2018 Zeki Güven and his wife, former judge Sevda Güven, were arrested by a court after they were taken into custody while shopping at a mall in Eskişehir.

When Güven was arrested, former police chief Hanefi Avcı said: “He is a very important man, I hope he’s well interrogated. If he speaks, light can be shed on many things.”

There are claims that Güven was taken out of jail for interrogation, that he was taken to the Ankara Police Station, where he was subjected to torture, which allegedly led to his death.

In a letter he wrote to his wife, who was also jailed in another province due to alleged Gülen links, Güven complained that the food served to him in prison was too salty, that he was not given his glasses or his medication.

The Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) reported in one of its studies titled “Suspicious Deaths and Suicides In Turkey” that there has been an increase in the number of suspicious deaths in Turkey, most in jails and detention centers, where torture and ill-treatment are practiced. In the majority of cases, authorities concluded they were suicides or natural deaths without any effective, independent investigation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement, inspired by US-based Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members, and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He intensified the crackdown on the movement following the abortive putsch on July 15, 2016 that he accused Gülen of masterminding.

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