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Turkey seeks up to 7.5 years for top doctor over chemical weapons remarks

Professor Şebnem Korur Fincancı

An indictment drafted by Turkish prosecutors is seeking a prison sentence of up to seven-and-a-half years for the head of a leading doctors union who was arrested last month on terrorism-related charges, Deutsche Welle Turkish edition reported.

Şebnem Korur Fincancı, 63, chairperson of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), a forensic expert and a prominent human rights activist, was arrested in Ankara last month over remarks calling for an investigation into claims about the Turkish army’s alleged use of chemical weapons against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.

Fincancı faced a backlash from government and nationalist circles due to her call and was accused of giving credit to claims made by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and defaming the Turkish military.The doctor is charged with disseminating terrorist propaganda for the PKK in the indictment drafted by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.

The PKK, which has been waging a bloody war in Turkey’s southeast since 1980s, is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community.

The investigation into Fincancı was launched based on a criminal complaint filed by the Defense Ministry, according to the indictment.

Turkey has strongly rejected the allegations that appeared in media outlets close to the PKK that its army was using chemical weapons in its counterterrorism operations in northern Iraq. Fincancı said she had examined video images and called for a probe.

In an interview she gave from prison published by BBC Turkish service on Thursday, Fincancı said her imprisonment is an attempt by the Turkish government to silence society and that she’s facing a “political” process, not a legal one.

Fincancı also said, regarding the conditions at Sincan Prison where she has been jailed since Oct. 27, that she was “quite comfortable” and alone in a large ward where there’s ample ventilation. She added, however, that there was an environment of isolation, where prison guards prevent the inmates from seeing or greeting one another when they are meeting with their lawyers.

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