Ailing Ergenekon convict released upon Constitutional Court ruling

Ailing Ergenekon convict released upon Constitutional Court ruling

Ailing Ergenekon convict released upon Constitutional Court ruling

Fatih Hilmioğlu walks out from Istanbul's Silivri prison facility Feb 20. AA photo

Ergenekon convict Fatih Hilmioğlu, recently diagnosed with stage three liver cancer, has been released from jail following upon a Constitutional Court ruling on Feb. 20 .

A former rector of Malatya University who was sentenced to 23 years in jail for involvement in the coup plot case, Hilmioğlu last month filed an individual application to Turkey’s top court to demand his release in order to receive necessary medical treatment.

The Constitutional Court issued the release ruling “as a precautionary measure,” a day after receiving a thorough medical report submitted by Hilmioğlu’s lawyers, which stated that his treatment would not be possible in the prison facility.

Lawyers said that the precautionary measure will be valid until the appeals process is completed, after which another decision will be taken if necessary.

Following his release, Hilmioğlu rejected once more charges against him. He also expressed his wish that the decision could set a precedent for other ailing convicts.

"The prime minister and other government officials have said that these trials was a plot orchestrated by a gang within the state. These cases are dismissed after these statements," Hilmioğlu told reporters after being released. 

Hilmioğlu’s lawyers had filed an individual application to the Constitutional Court on Jan. 16, arguing that his imprisonment breached his right to life. They said the examination of that application was still ongoing and the court could still rule that his rights were violated.

“The ruling was made to prevent any irreparable damage during the examination process of the files. For example, if the court rules that there is indeed a breach [of Hilmioğlu’s rights], the precautionary decision will turn into a definitive decision. But if the precaution if lifted, Hilmioğlu will be sent back to prison,” said lawyer Celal Ülgen.

Deputy PM praises ruling

“It is lucky we have a Constitutional Court,” Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said regarding the decision, in the first reaction from a government official.

“The news about the release of Professor Hilmioğlu has made me very happy. It was a late, but well-made decision, and I hope it will set a precedent for many others,” Arınç said during a visit in London. He also urged that the question be considered “with humanity.” 

“I hope other courts will also put into practice when they receive similar medical reports [on a convict], without necessitating an application to the Constitutional Court to ensure their release as a precaution,” he said.

A number of politicians, including President Abdullah Gül and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, had urged that a solution be found to let Hilmioğlu receive the treatment he needs.

The Constitutional Court recently ruled for the release of jailed lawmakers, stating that the excessive duration of their detention violated the rights of elected individuals.