Top Turkish doctor jailed on terror charges after call for chemical weapons probe

Releads with formal arrest of Fincancı

An Ankara court on Thursday ordered the arrest of the president of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB) for calling for an investigation into the military's alleged use of chemical weapons against outlawed Kurdish militants, T24 news site reported.

Şebnem Korur Fincanci was jailed pending a trial a day after being detained by Istanbul police Wednesday as part of an investigation launched by the Ankara chief prosecutor's office, according to T24.

The 63-year-old was later taken to capital Ankara, where she was formally arrested by a local court on charges of conducting "terror propaganda," the site reported.

TTB’s Fincanci earlier this month called for an investigation into reports that the Turkish military had used “toxic chemical gasses” on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed group that has been at war in Turkey for Kurdish self-rule for four decades. 

Ankara has strongly denied that the Turkish military used chemical weapons in their operations against the PKK after PKK-linked media militant published videos showing chemical weapons being used by the army against the PKK in northern Iraq, BBC Turkish reported. 

Turkey frequently carries out cross-border airstrikes striking suspected targets across Iraqi Kurdistan, where the PKK maintains its headquarters.

In comments to a pro-Kurdish news outlet, Fincanci said she inspected a video purporting to show the use of chemical weapons and called for an “effective investigation”. 

"Obviously, one of the toxic chemical gases was used that directly affects the nervous system," Fincanci told Media Haber during a live broadcast, sharing her examinations on the basis of the coverages allegedly showing the chemical warfare posted in social media. Fincanci urged independent missions to investigate the incident within the scope of international treaties. 

Following the interview, Fincanci was targeted by pro-government media, leading to a legal investigation on the grounds of “disseminating terrorist propaganda” and "insulting the Turkish nation, the state of the Republic of Turkey and its institutions.’’

On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also targeted Fincancı, Evrensel newspaper reported.

“The judiciary has taken action regarding the head of the (Turkish)Medical Association,” Erdoğan said, adding that his government that the association’s name would be changed by law and Fincancı heading an organization whose name contains the word “Turkish,” is something that “disturbs’’ Turkey’s citizens.

The 63-year-old, a forensic expert, has spent much of her career documenting torture and ill-treatment, and is a leading human rights activist in Turkey. She has served also as president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey and an outspoken critic of the government.

Five members of the TTB protesting Fincancı’s detention outside the Ankara court on Thursday were taken into police custody, Diken news site reported.

A number of people were also detained by Turkish anti-riot police officers during a demonstration over Fincancı’s arrest in Istanbul, Reuters reported on Thursday.

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