“Lawyer Mehmet Ali Uçar, who is visually impaired and has haemophilia and is imprisoned in Izmir Menemen R Type Prison, is not released despite having four reports from the Turkish Forensic Medicine Institution stating that he cannot stay in prison.” is reported by journalist Sevinç Özarslan.
Mehmet Ali Uçar, a lawyer of 32 years, was sentenced to 8 years and 8 months in January 2021 for lecturing at Izmir University Faculty of Law, which was closed down by a state of emergency decree, and for assuming the cases of people dismissed from public service. He was one of the more than 550 lawyers who have been imprisoned due to the identity of their clients since 2016’s coup attempt.
Since 2016’s coup attempt, there has been a relentless campaign of arrests which has targeted fellow lawyers across the country. In 77 of Turkey’s 81 provinces, lawyers have been detained, prosecuted and convicted due to alleged terror-linked offences. As of today, more than 1600 lawyers have been arrested and prosecuted while 615 lawyers have been remanded to pretrial detention. So far, 551 lawyers have been sentenced to 3356 years in prison over terrorism-related charges, mostly membership in terrorist organisations that is stipulated in Article 314 of the Turkish Penal Code.
Uçar, who was taken from Izmir to Istanbul 3 times for medical examination, was not released despite the reports of the Board of Forensic Medicine dated 26 May 2021, 14 July 2021 and 28 September 2022 stating that ‘he cannot stay in prison’. (Two of four reports are below.)
Lawyer Uçar, who was deprived of his basic rights such as reading, writing, walking and eating, wrote a letter to journalist İsmail Küçükkaya to make his voice heard. In his letter, Uçar said, “I have been kept here for 2.5 years despite four forensic medical reports. Will we make our voices heard only when the inevitable death comes to us?” His letter as follows:
I am an academic and a lawyer with 100 per cent vision impairment. At the same time, I have haemophilia. With my vision impairment on top of my haemophilia, it would be a miracle to get out of prison alive. Every day I hit my head and my arms and legs somewhere. The lawyers who visit me would attest to that.
I have been convicted because I was an academic at a university that was closed down by the Government and because I took cases of those accused of terrorism. When the judge asked me why I worked half a day a week at that university, I said … that the people who studied at that university and did their master’s degree and doctorate at that university were now prosecutors and judges, and when I asked why I was sitting in the defendant’s chair, an argument broke out between me and the judge because I said this.
The judge said I would pay the price when it was time. Our hostility continued throughout the whole trial. And the judge (eventually) arrested me … even though there was a forensic medical report that I could not stay in prison. He didn’t even wait for the appeal and the Court of Cassation proceedings. During the trial, I was repeatedly told that if I did not pay a bribe, I would be given a long sentence and arrested. Since I am a lawyer, I did not pay that sort of unlawfulness much attention.
When I entered the prison, intermediaries came and told me that I would be released if I paid one million or three million (liras). I was told that a significant part of this amount would be handed to judges. In other words, I am a living witness to what is called FETÖ bourse in Izmir.
I have been a lawyer for 32 years and an academic for 10 years. I am currently in prison. The prison yard allocated to us is used by 12 different criminals. If it’s my turn, I can go out for 1 to 2 hours. These criminals are people who either murdered their wives, or daughters-in-law or fathers, and or molest children. More importantly, since I was convicted as a ‘terrorist’… so I was a traitor, the prisoners swear at least a hundred times, including at my dead mother, while I am in the yard. I filed a complaint about this, and in reprisal, the murderer who swore at me reported me for making terrorist propaganda and I was prosecuted for spreading terrorist propaganda.
I am deprived of all basic rights such as reading, writing, eating and walking. There are 4 different reports stating that I cannot stay in prison. But the result does not change. My offence is actually not giving the bribe which was demanded from me. But no one hears our voice. Hear our voices too. Despite 4 forensic medicine reports, I am still in prison and according to the report I should be released. Despite this, I have been kept here for 2.5 years. Will our voices be heard only when death, the inevitable end finds us?”