Audience protests top commander at Balyoz convict’s funeral

Audience protests top commander at Balyoz convict’s funeral

Audience protests top commander at Balyoz convict’s funeral

Murat Özenalp's mother, wife and three children lead the mourners during the funeral in Ankara, May 2. DHA Photo

Col. Murat Özenalp, a “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) coup plot trial convict, was laid to rest on May 2 in Ankara amid protests at perceived indifference toward prisoners on the part of the military brass, one day after passing away due to a cerebral hemorrhage.

Özenalp, 49, died on May 1, five days after he was taken to hospital after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage in prison. Özenalp had been sent to the Gülhane Military Academy of Medicine (GATA) after falling on the floor at the Mamak Military Prison on April 26, but doctors were unable to operate on him as the hemorrhage was continuing. Özenalp fainted and fell on the floor as he was playing with his daughter Duru, 8, during an open visit.

A ceremony was held at the GATA before the funeral. In an unusual practice, Özenalp’s dead body was later taken to Mamak Military Prison in order to let his fellow prisoners bid farewell to their friend. Özenalp’s friends in prison asked on May 1 for permission from military officials for such a farewell.

Özenalp was sentenced to a 16-year imprisonment on charges of attempting to overthrow the government and was among the 237 suspects in the case whose convictions were approved by the Supreme Court of Appeals in October 2013.

The audience shouted at Naval Forces Cmdr. Adm. Bülent Bostanoğlu during the funeral, with mourners blaming him for not lending support to the Balyoz convicts. Bostanoğlu remained silent in the face of the protests, while his guards surrounded him.

In Istanbul, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu suggested that officials’ neglect played a role in Özenalp’s death.

“We will, of course, have a reaction to show on this issue,” Kılıçdaroğlu told reporters. “Whatever we are politically required to do, that will be done,” he added, recalling that currently there were many ill prisoners.