Former police intelligence chief Zeki Güven was found dead on Sunday in his cell at Ankara’s Sincan Prison, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency.
Güven had been dismissed from his latest position as assistant chief of police in Bolu over Gülen movement links in 2015, and a detention warrant was later issued accusing him of being an “executive member of a terrorist organization.”
In May, 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 province.
He did not have a chance to appear in court to plead his case, which includes an accusation of involvement in the revelation of a sex scandal concerning the Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) former leader, Deniz Baykal, in 2010.
According to an official statement, Zeki Güven died due to a heart attack; however, given previous incidents and deaths in Turkish prisons, his death is considered suspicious.
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 being practiced. In the majority of cases, authorities concluded they were suicides without any effective, independent investigation.
Suspicious deaths have also taken place beyond prison walls amid psychological pressure and threats of imminent imprisonment and torture, sometimes following the release of suspects or just before their detention. SCF has compiled 115 cases of suspicious deaths and suicides in Turkey in a list in a searchable database format.
Turkish authorities believe the Gülen movement orchestrated a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, although the movement strongly denies any involvement.