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Gunman in 2006 attack on Council of State found dead in prison

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Alparslan Arslan, who killed a member of the Council of State, Turkey’s highest administrative court, in a 2006 shooting, has been found dead in prison after allegedly taking his own life, the Halk TV news website reported on Friday.

Arslan, 45, who was a lawyer at the time, attacked the 2nd Chamber of the Council of State on May 17, 2006, killing judge Mustafa Yücel Özbilgin and injuring four members of the court.

He reportedly hanged himself by knotting together several trash bags, and sources from the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said he had not been taking care of himself for a long time.

Although the administration of Maltepe Prison in İstanbul told Arslan’s family that he died by suicide, his father, İdris Arslan, claimed he was murdered behind bars, according to a report by the Superhaber news website.

Arslan’s statement and the investigation conducted after the shooting revealed that the attack was sparked by a ruling in which the court on Feb. 8, 2006 found it “objectionable” for teacher Aytaç Kılınç to be principal of a kindergarten because she wore the Islamic headscarf to school.

The headscarf was at the center of debate in the 1990s, but the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) abolished a ban on the wearing of headscarves at Turkish universities in 2010, while the same ban was abolished for civil servants in 2017.

The Ankara 23rd High Criminal Court in August 2018 handed down an aggravated life sentence to Arslan on charges of “killing a public officer due to the performance of his public duty,” also sentencing him to 72 years in prison for “attempted murder of a public official.” His sentences were upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals in November 2020.

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