The head of a leading doctors union who was arrested in October on terrorism-related charges is facing a new investigation as a part of which she is accused of “membership in an armed terrorist organization,” the Mezopotamya news agency reported on Tuesday.
Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, head of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) as well as an expert in forensic medicine and a prominent human rights defender, had been in pretrial detention since Oct. 26 due to her remarks calling for an investigation into claims of the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Turkish military against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.
Fincancı, who is accused of giving credit to claims made by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey and much of the international community – and defaming the Turkish military, is charged with disseminating terrorist propaganda for the militant group, which calls for a sentence of seven-and-a-half years in prison.
An İstanbul court on Dec. 23 ruled for the continuation of the doctor’s incarceration and adjourned the trial until Dec. 29.
According to Mezopotamya, a new investigation was launched based on the same incident into Fincancı and other members of the TTB’s central council, accusing them of membership in a terrorist organization.
The investigation was initiated by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, which also launched the initial investigation into Fincancı, Mezopotamya said, adding that a gag order was issued for the new probe.
The Turkish government has strongly denied the allegations about the military’s use of chemical weapons, and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Fincancı of “speaking the language of terrorism.”
Fincancı once again called for “an effective investigation” including on-the-ground inspections and autopsies of PKK militants in her defense at the İstanbul 24th High Criminal Court on Friday.
“My medical opinion has been criminalized. If there is a crime in question, there is also an effort to cover up that crime. The crimes committed by a state are investigated by independent bodies,” the doctor said.
In an interview she gave from prison published by BBC Turkish service in late November, Fincancı said her imprisonment is an attempt by the Turkish government to silence society and that she’s facing a “political” process, not a legal one.