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Lawyers demand release of tortured prisoner held in Turkey

LAWYERS for “political prisoner” Mustafa Kocak demanded his immediate release today after he showed signs of being subjected to shocking levels of torture and rape by Turkish intelligence officials.

Ezgi Cakir of the People’s Law Office visited Mr Kocak in the high-security Kiriklar F-Type prison in the west coast city of Izmir today.

Speaking in a video message filmed outside the jail, she said that her client showed signs of beating and torture, with his veins bursting as a result of his treatment at the hands of security officials.

Mr Kocak had been tied up and hung while his arms and feet were handcuffed, she said.

She said that he was kept like this for five days during which time he was raped with a baton while prison doctors, guards and the police stood laughing alongside members of the Turkish National Intelligence Organisation.

He was not allowed to use the bathroom and was forced to sit in his own urine and faeces as prison officials refused to clean him, she said.

Mr Kocak was sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment in July 2019 after claims that he had been involved in the kidnap of public prosecutor Mehmet Selim Kiraz, despite a lack of concrete evidence.

He was accused by the authorities of being a member of the Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front – deemed a terrorist organisation by Turkey.

Mr Kiraz was accused of covering up the killing of 14-year-old Berkin Elvan, who was shot dead by Turkish police during the 2013 Gezi Park anti-government protests in Istanbul.

He was held hostage after being taken from a courtroom but was shot dead in March 2015 during the police operation to free him. His two kidnappers were also killed.

In 2017 a single witness, Berk Ercan, alleged that Mr Kocak told him that he had provided the gun to Mr Kiraz’s captors.

Mr Ercan is considered to be unreliable, but evidence submitted by him has been used to jail at least 346 people related to the Gezi Park protests and other anti-government actions.

When he was first detained in 2017, Mr Kocak described being subjected to physical and psychological torture. He claimed to have been hung by his arms and handcuffed while a sack was placed over his head.

A can was also placed over his head and banged for “dozens of minutes” while his interrogators threatened to rape his pregnant sister unless he gave a statement. The beatings continued for 12 days, he said.

Mr Kocak insists that his detention is unsafe and has demanded a fair trial. He held a hunger strike in 2019 that lasted for more than 250 days, leaving him close to death.

Ms Cakir called on NGOs, intellectuals, lawyers and the international community to take urgent action and call for the release of Mr Kocak.

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