Turkish deputy PM pleased over convicted Prof's release

Photo: Turkish deputy PM pleased over convicted Prof's release / Turkey

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said that he is very pleased to hear the news of Prof. Dr. Fatih Hilmioglu's release from prison on health reasons by the Constitutional Court on Thursday in Ankara, after facing charges regarding his alleged involvement in the Ergenekon coup plot, Anadolu Agency reported.

"It is a very fitting decision, albeit late. I hope that it will be an example for others (in a similar situation)," he told reporters after attending a breakfast talk with members of the press at the Turkish Embassy's residence in London.

"As you know, I had been working on this issue for at least two years, and we made a legal amendment that facilitates the procedure of release on the basis of doctor's report," he added.

Arinc said that the issue needs to be considered from a humanitarian point of view and in conscience, referring to Hilmioglu's serious health condition, which deteriorated further following his son's death in a traffic accident in October 2012.

"We don't want anybody to rot in jail or be imprisoned for that matter if they have serious medical conditions... I hope that the relevant courts ensure that such people are released preemptively without the need for an order from the Constitutional Court," he concluded.

Hilmioglu, who has been diagnosed with stage-three liver cancer, was arrested in April 2009. The Ergenekon, an alleged ultranationalist clandestine network, was officially accused of organizing a military coup in 2013 to topple the Justice and Development (AK) Party.

Hilmioglu's lawyers filed an individual application to the Constitutional Court for his release on January 16, claiming a breach of his human rights, his health condition and a violation of his right to a fair trial. On Thursday, the Constitutional Court discussed Hilmioglu's health report and released him on the grounds of his illness.

Hilmioglu, was sentenced to 23 years in prison for his alleged involvement in the Ergenekon group's plot to oust the government in 2007.

Following the breakfast talk with journalists from major newspapers and news agencies including the Financial Times, Reuters, the Economist, Daily Telegraph and The Associated Press, Arinc met with Tariq Ahmad, UK government minister responsible for religious communities in London.

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