Turkish Justice Ministry rejects covering court fee of victim with severe brain injury

Turkish Justice Ministry rejects covering court fee of victim with severe brain injury

İsmail Saymaz - HAKKARİ
Turkish Justice Ministry rejects covering court fee of victim with severe brain injury The Justice Ministry has rejected a family’s request that it cover the application fees of 80,000 Turkish Liras ($22,500) for a mental anguish lawsuit, which the family wants to file against people who severely injured a 33-year-old woman in a construction accident in the eastern province of Hakkari. 

Justifying the rejection, the ministry indicated that Kumru Konak, who was covered by thousands of liters of wet concrete during unlicensed construction in a connected building, has been receiving a disability allowance for the past three years. Social security records, however, show Kumru still working as a mathematics teacher in Hakkari’s Yüksekova district. 

The incident occurred in 2014 while Konak was sleeping in her home in Hakkari. The walls of her bedroom collapsed with the pressure of thousands of liters of wet concrete, and the concrete ended up covering the entire room and also Konak herself, causing her to suffocate. 

Konak stopped breathing after being trapped under concrete for a number of hours, and eventually the lack of oxygen caused severe damage to her brain, leaving her in a minimally conscious state.

As there was no neurology center that could treat her severe condition in Turkey, Konak was in 2016 referred to a hospital in Germany thanks to a donation campaigns. However, the treatment expenses eventually reached a point where the family could not afford treatment anymore, at which point Konak’s brother took her out of the hospital in order to take care of her at home.

In an attempt to claim “moral damages” of 2 million Turkish Liras ($562,000), the Konak family wants to sue seven suspects over their daughter’s current health situation, but in order to file the case they need to pay a court fee of 80,000 liras. 

As the family does not have the financial means to cover this fee, its lawyers have requested judicial assistance from the court. In February 2017, the Yüksekova civil court of first instance rejected the demand, citing the fact that the victim’s brother, Ali Eker Konak, had a monthly salary of 3,000 liras ($843). The family’s lawyers appealed the decision, but this appeal was rejected, this time on the grounds that the victim was retired due to disability and was receiving a disability pension. Social security records, on the other hand, show Kumru as still working, which implies that she cannot be receiving a disability pension.  

“Her monthly expenses amounted to 100,000 euros every month. These expenses cannot be covered with a disability pension. This is being overlooked by the court, which is rejecting our demands with illegitimate statements,” Kumru’s lawyer Harika Karataş said.

Her brother, Ali Ekber Konak, said they were now looking for another hospital to continue her treatment, as Kumru’s paralyzed condition means that she must receive a more intensive rehabilitation. 

“Friends are helping by volunteering to continue providing physiotherapy treatment for my sister. As the expenses were too much for us, we have taken her [Kumru] out of the clinic and we are now looking into other hospitals,” he added.