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Purge victim who lost 2 daughters while in jail given 25-year sentence

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Enis Evren Civelek, a jailed purge victim in Turkey who lost four family members in a traffic accident including his two little daughters while they were returning from a prison visit, has been handed down a jail sentence of 25 years, six months on terrorism charges, the Medya Bold news website reported on Thursday.

Civelek is one of the countless victims of Turkey’s massive purge of supporters of the faith-based Gülen movement, which is labeled as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government.

Civelek’s wife, two daughters aged 3 and 8, mother and father-in-law paid him a visit at Keskin Prison in Turkey’s central Kırklareli province in early December. In an auto accident on the way home to Düzce, his two children, mother and father-in-law died immediately, while his wife Hatice was hospitalized with broken ribs and other injuries.

Civelek was allowed to attend the funerals of his mother and daughters in Düzce province and also visit his wife in the hospital in Ankara. He was sent back to prison two days after the accident despite a report from a psychologist warning that the man could commit suicide in prison.

The last hearing in Civelek’s trial was held at the Ankara 13th High Criminal Court on Monday at the end of which he was given a jail sentence of 25 years, six months on charges of membership in a terrorist organization and leading a terrorist organization. The sentences were the upper limit for the crimes and were increased by half.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and labels it a “terrorist organization,” although the movement strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Civelek, a former Turkish language teacher, has been behind bars since June 2017. His wife Hatice, a primary school teacher, was one of the thousands of teachers who were removed from their jobs by a government decree issued in September 2016 due to alleged Gülen links.

In similar trials, courts handed down sentences to the defendants either on charges of membership in a terrorist organization or leading a terrorist organization. In Civelek’s case, the court sentenced him on both charges.

The charges against Civelek stem from the time he served as an administrator at a Gülen-linked dormitory in Ankara’s Beypazarı district 13 years ago.

US-based Turkish-Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Following the coup attempt, more than 150,000 people were removed from state jobs while in excess of 50,000 others were jailed and some 600,000 people have been investigated on allegations of terrorism due to alleged Gülen links.

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