Turkish court rejects release of hunger striking lawyers, despite deteriorating health

Turkey’s Constitutional Court rejected a request to release lawyers Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal, who have been on a hunger strike since February for the right to a fair trial, Cumhuriyet reported on Friday.

“There is no serious danger towards their physical or spiritual wellbeing,” the top court said in its decision.

The Istanbul Forensic Medicine Institute (ATK) previously stated in a medical report that Timtik and Ünsal were “not fit to stay in prison”.

The lawyers were not released despite the ATK report, and were hospitalised in separate facilities on July 30 due to their deteriorating health. 

The Constitutional Court said that the lawyers’ application for release “did not allege that the conditions [at the hospital] are insufficient due to COVID-19 epidemic or another medical reason”.

Timtik and Ünsal are among a group of 18 lawyers who were convicted earlier this year of membership in the outlawed far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C). The defendants said the charges were spurious.

In July, the Istanbul 37th High Criminal Court rejected an application for the release of Timtitk and Ünsal on the grounds that they were deemed a flight risk due to their convictions on terrorism-related charges. 

Timtik and Ünsal’s cases were taken to the Court of Cassation, and then to the Constitutional Court.

On April 5, Timtik and Ünsal announced that their hunger strike would be a death fast if necessary.