Turkey releases hunger-striking lawyer after death of fellow imprisoned attorney
Turkey’s supreme court Thursday ordered the release of a hunger-striking lawyer, one week after a fellow attorney died 238 days into a fast she staged seeking a fair trial.
A judgement from the court’s appellate division said an extension of Aytac Unsal’s detention in an Istanbul hospital, where he was transferred from jail in July, “would be dangerous to his life.”
The 32-year-old had been on hunger strike for over 200 days, his friends and family told Turkish media.
He was sentenced in 2019 to 10 years and six months in prison on terror-related charges which he denies.
Unsal and fellow lawyer Ebru Timtik, who died last week, were members of the Contemporary Lawyers’ Association.
The group is accused of having close ties to the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), a far-left Marxist organization.
The DHKP-C has claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks, including a 2013 suicide bombing at the US embassy in Ankara, which killed a Turkish security guard.
In 2019, an Istanbul court handed multiple sentences to 18 lawyers, including Timtik and Unsal, on charges of “forming and running a terror group.”
After the sentencing, Timtik, Unsal and several other lawyers went on hunger strike, after their appeals were ignored by the courts.
The two lawyers turned their hunger strike into a death fast in April, consuming only liquids and vitamins.
They were transferred to a hospital but formally kept in detention after a medical report ruled that their lives were at risk in July.
At the time of her death last Thursday, Timtik weighed just 30 kilograms (65 pounds), her friends told AFP.
The supreme court ruling was issued shortly after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Ankara with Robert Spano, the new president of the European Court of Human Rights.
Spano stressed to Erdogan “the importance of the rule of law and democracy and in particular,” the ECHR said after the talks.
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