Lawyers: Kurdish politician with dementia should be released immediately

Lawyers: Kurdish politician with dementia should be released immediately
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A Turkish court decided to release former HDP MP Aysel Tugluk, but the dementia patient is still being held behind bars for another charge.

Aysel Tugluk has been jailed since December 2016 over terrorism charges, and she has been struggling with dementia for a long time, said Serhat Eren, the Kurdish politician’s lawyer and deputy Co-Chair of the HDP (People’s Democratic Party) responsible for the Law and Human Rights Commission.

Although Kocaeli University diagnosed Tugluk with "chronic and progressive dementia" in 2021 and concluded that she was not fit to stay in prison, the Turkish Forensic Medicine Institute (ATK) refused to give the necessary approval by saying she has "mild cognitive impairment" and has "full criminal liability."

“The court does not decide to release her… because of ATK's reports that are against science, law, ethics and conscience,” Eren said. 

However, ATK recently approved the release of a former general with dementia, saying the 83 year old convict could not survive alone in a penitentiary. 

“Two opposing decisions for the same illness indicate the unlawful and discriminatory approach against the Kurds and the political mass represented by Tugluk” Eren said, adding that it is a crime against humanity to keep someone in prison who can't survive on her own.

In a recent hearing, a Turkish judge defied all protests by her lawyers and forced Tugluk to testify through an audio-visual system and although she said she was not able to talk.