Turkish anti-drug NGO director faces new drug, sexual assault charges

Turkish anti-drug NGO director faces new drug, sexual assault charges

Nurettin Kurt - ANKARA
Turkish anti-drug NGO director faces new drug, sexual assault charges A probe into the founding general director of an anti-drug organization in Turkey, who was ironically arrested over drug possession in late January, has widened further with new serious allegations of drug distribution and sexual assault.

An Ankara prosecutor’s new findings claimed Federation for the Fight against Drug Addiction and Alcoholism (UBAM) General Director İsmail Karakaş “provided heroin and pills to patients who applied for treatment” and “did not accept those patients to the treatment center despite being paid for it.” He also “gave heroin to a female patient during a moment of withdrawal symptoms and then sexually assaulted her,” according to another new allegation. 

During a police search of Karakaş’s office and car, 36 packages of heroin and 117 different kinds of prescription medicines as well as the ID cards of some patients were found. 

Police also found a voice recorder taped under his desk in his office.   

A prosecutor’s office appealed for testimonies from some of the NGO’s employees. 

“He had a weakness for women. He was having relationships with women who applied for treatment and were not able to pay for it, while he was also asking for female relatives from his male patients [with whom he could engage in a] sexual relationship. He was abusing female addicts by saying, ‘You can overcome withdrawal with a sexual relationship.’ We warned him but he said, ‘This is my personal life, look at your own business,’” said one of the employees in their testimony.

During his interrogation, Karakaş denied the charges, saying someone may have put the drugs in his bag. “My bag always stays on my desk. I sometimes go to a balcony to smoke or go to pray, someone might have put [the drugs in the bag] at that time. And when it comes to medicines, I carry them during conferences and meetings to show patients who take them for treatment that they contain opiates and therefore should not be used,” said Karakaş.

The file also included information that Karakaş has a wife and four children in the southeastern province of Van and is religiously married to a woman, identified as D.T., who works at the federation. Karakaş has a five-month-old child from his religious marriage. 

Founded in 2013, UBAM offers free addiction consultancy services to around 10,000 families. It also founded Turkey’s first Addicted Nutrition and Accommodation Center in Ankara.
The federation’s head, Dila Tezemir, and Karakaş had been chosen the best NGO leaders and the best NGO of Europe in the past with the votes of 251 NGOs from 47 countries including those in the European Union.