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Jailed post-coup victim judge dies after ICU hospitalization

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A former member of Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals who was disbarred in the aftermath of a failed coup and subsequently jailed due to his alleged links to the faith-based Gülen movement died on Friday morning after spending a week in the intensive care unit, the Bold Medya news website reported.

Mehmet Sait Demiröz, 58, was one of the more than 4,000 members of the judiciary who were removed from their jobs in the aftermath of a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 on allegations that they had links to the Gülen movement.

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

Demiröz was first jailed on July 21, 2016 and was released after serving several years due to an advanced lung problem called empyema. He was recently rearrested and sent to Ödemiş Prison in the western province of İzmir after lung surgery, with his wife, Melek, frequently complaining that Demiröz was not being given proper treatment while in prison and his health was deteriorating.

Melek Demiröz constantly called for the release of his husband from prison, saying that he faces the risk of a heart attack and multiple organ failure but judicial authorities failed to heed her call.

Judge Demiröz had been given a jail sentence of 13 years, six months on terrorism-related charges.

Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants, including 4,156 judges and prosecutors, as well as 29,444 members of the armed forces were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

According to a statement from Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ, a total of 117,208 people have been convicted while more than 600,000 have been the subject of investigation in Turkey due to alleged links to the Gülen movement since the coup attempt.

Yet, judicial experts voice skepticism about the figures announced by Bozdağ, saying that 117,208 convictions are only those that have been upheld by an appeals court, since Justice Ministry data show that more than 265,000 people were sentenced on charges of terrorist organization membership between 2016 and 2020 due to their alleged Gülen links.

There have been many people among Turkey’s post-coup victims who died in jail or shorty after their release over the past years because they were not given proper treatment or continued to be kept in prison although they were unfit to stay in jail.

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