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Doors to courtyard locked in Silivri Prison on night of İstanbul quake

Silivri Prison in İstanbul has become a symbol of Turkey, the biggest jailer of journalists around the world. / AFP PHOTO / Yasin AKGUL

A request from jailed journalist Ahmet Altan to the administration of Silivri Prison in İstanbul to leave the doors to the courtyard unlocked after a 5.8 magnitude earthquake hit İstanbul last Thursday was turned down, according to an opposition deputy.

The epicenter of the quake was in the Sea of Marmara near the Silivri district, where the prison, which holds thousands for mainly political reasons, is located. Many İstanbul residents spent the night outdoors fearing a second quake.

 Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Utku Çakırözer, a former journalist, visited Altan, former CHP deputy Eren Erdem and businessman Osman Kavala, who are all incarcerated in Silivri, following the quake to learn what happened on that day.

Çakırözer said although Altan asked the prison administration to keep the doors to the courtyard open for the safety of the inmates in the event of another earthquake, the administration rejected his request, saying that those doors can only be left open with permission from the justice minister.

There are 22,700 inmates in Silivri Prison, where around 500 prison personnel are employed.

During his meeting with Erdem, the former deputy told Çakıözer that neither the Justice Ministry nor the prison administration has any idea about what to do in the event of a powerful earthquake, which according to experts is likely to hit İstanbul at an unknown date.

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