Yılmaz Duruk (57), a prisoner kept in Mersin E-type Open Prison since April, 2017, has lost his life in Mersin University Hospital.
His family applied to Turkey's Center for Prison Studies/Civil Society in the Penal System(TCPS/CISST) on November 2 and reported that Duruk was taken to intensive care station due to an infection that began at his teeth and later spread to his whole body. The family was told to "Be prepared for everything" by the doctors.
15 days later, he was declared brain death.
Applied to a doctor complaining of toothache in March
According to information his family gave to CİSST, Duruk was arrested on March 27, 2017 and was sent to Mersin E-type Closed Prison. In the same month, Duruk applied to the prison doctor due to toothache complaints.
After being kept for one month in closed prison, he was transferred to the open prison and he was examined by the prison doctor during March, April and August.
Seven months after his arrest, his doctor referred him to Mersin Toros State Hospital Emergency Polyclinic on October 24, 2017 due to a abscess in his teeth.
His family reported that although Duruk fainted while waiting in the line at the hospital, he was given a serum and sent back to prison.
According to the documents of the prison administration, Duruk was sent to Mersin University Faculty of Medicine Infection Polyclinic on October 26 again, with an "emergency transfer" due to an infection.
Prison claims "no negligence"
İdil Aydınoğlu from CİSST, told bianet that they spoke to relevant institutions on November 3, upon Duruk's family's complaint.
On November 14, the prison administration responded to CİSST that "necessary examinations and treatments were undertaken for Duruk and that the prison did not act negligent on the matter".
Addressing pure prison conditions and prisoner complaints, Aydınoğlu made following points:
* Exceeded capacity and hygiene problems
Pointing to the increasing number of complaints from Mersin Open Prison, Aydınoğlu noted:
"Normally, an open prison has a capacity of 140 people but at the moment, there are 360 people. Since the capacities are exceeded, prisoners who do not fit in the wards, are staying in ateliers. This causes a serious hygiene problem and one inmate getting sick affects everyone else.
"The prisoners reported that the prison administration told them they 'would not be sent to hospital except for heart attack'".
* Unfavorable location of prisoner wards in hospitals
"In addition, there are also claims that the doctors do not take sufficient care of the prisoners since in Mersin City Hospital, prisoners' ward is far away from the polyclinics where the doctors are".
Aydınoğlu stressed that access to medical care has become an issue in open prisons and they had already been receiving complaints about cases that became a life-threatening situation although they could have been treated easily. But this was the first case that ended up with the death of a prisoner, Aydınoğlu noted.
* Insufficient monitoring mechanisms
"In addition, groups that are supposed to monitor the prisons and report to the Ministry of Justice, leave the prison before reaching every prisoner group. Therefore, such mechanisms do not work well", Aydınoğlu added. (TP/DG)
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