A prosecutor who was rounded up after a failed military coup attempt in a Western province of Bursa was found dead on Friday, adding fuel to concerns of rampant torture and mistreatment in overcrowded prisons.
Seyfettin Yigit, 47, was arrested in connection to the coup on July 20. Last year, he was reassigned to a less influential position in Bursa as part of a crackdown on followers of Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania, Fethullah Gulen. Yigit is among nearly 3,000 members of judiciary arrested after the failed coup plot on July 15.
On Friday morning, inmates in a Bursa prison found the prosecutor dead in the toilet. Officials speculated that he might have hanged himself. It was not immediately clear if the cause of death is a suicide.
Yigit’s body was taken to a morgue in Bursa for a further autopsy.
Turkish prisons had been notorious for extrajudicial killings, mostly in the form of suicide, in 1990s. But the torture and these type of killings significantly reduced in the past decade as a result of improvements in prison conditions.
But advocacy groups rang alarm bells as they reported on credible evidence of rampant mistreatment and torture in prisons since tens of thousands of people were jailed across Turkey in the past two months. Pro-Freedom Jurists Association (OHD) recently reported that inmates arrested on coup charges are being tortured in prisons and that other convicts have a “hard time sleeping at night due to screams over torturing.”
Prosecutor Yigit was charged of having links to Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETO), a term used to describe followers of Gulen. The government has accused the cleric of masterminding the coup attempt on July 15. Gulen denies any role.
Prosecutor’s arrest was part of a post-coup purge targeting alleged Gulen supporters within the judiciary, military, media and civil service.
Tens of thousands of public employees were either suspended, sacked or detained as part of the massive crackdown following the failed coup attempt.