Teacher held in custody over Gülen links falls ill, dies in Istanbul hospital

Teacher held in custody over Gülen links falls ill, dies in Istanbul hospital

Teacher held in custody over Gülen links falls ill, dies in Istanbul hospital A teacher who was being held in custody over suspected links to the July 15 failed coup attempt, believed to have been masterminded by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), has fallen ill and died in hospital.

Gökhan Açıkkollu, 42, who was detained for 13 days, initially showed signs of deteriorating health on July 28. Açıkkollu, who was a teacher in a high school in Istanbul’s Ümraniye district, was detained on July 23 as a part of the FETÖ probe. He fell ill on July 28 while in detention and was taken to hospital. He then was brought back to the police headquarters for interrogation. 

He suffered from diabetes and his relatives were not able to provide him with the necessary medicine for three days after his detention, Doğan News Agency reported on Aug. 8.

Açıkkollu once again fell ill on Aug. 5 and was again taken to hospital, where he died. 

Açıkkollu’s family received his body after an autopsy in the forensic medicine institution but they were reportedly not able to hold a funeral ceremony, as he was a suspected follower of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. 

“It wasn’t allowed for us to bury our son in Istanbul due to the state of emergency. They told us that if we were to bury him, we would have to do it in the ‘Traitors’ Cemetery’ in the Ballıca neighborhood [in Istanbul’s Pendik district] without any Islamic rituals being performed,” Açıkkollu’s father, Ayhan Açıkkollu, said.

His family then took Açıkkollu’s body to the Central Anatolian province of Konya in their own car due to the ban on providing funeral services to FETÖ suspects. 

Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) issued a statement on July 19, saying it would not offer religious funerary services, including funeral prayers, for the individuals involved in the failed takeover. 

No imam was assigned to Açıkkollu’s funeral, thus a person living in the neighborhood performed the funeral prayers with the participation of 40 people. 

A “Traitors’ Cemetery” was set up upon the orders of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbaş in Istanbul’s Pendik district, but the sign was later removed after the head of Diyanet, Mehmet Görmez, said that it would offend the families of the dead.