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Sunday, 31 December, 2000, 02:57 GMT
Turkey denies prison torture claims
Soldiers carry injured prisoner
The clampdown left 31 dead and many more injured
By Chris Morris in Istanbul

The Turkish Government has denied allegations that inmates have been tortured and humiliated after a large security operation in the country's prisons earlier this month in which at least 31 people died.

Prisoners' relatives and human rights groups have expressed alarm about what is happening inside the prison system, where a hunger strike is continuing.

Cell in new prison
More than 1,000 inmates have been transferred to new prisons
The crisis in Turkey's prison system is by no means over, but the authorities have now gained the upper hand.

Relatives of left-wing prisoners who have been transferred to new maximum security jails say inmates have been beaten, abused and denied proper medical attention.

Human rights organisations say they have received dozens of formal complaints.

But the Ministry of Justice says there has been no torture and no ill-treatment, and has promised to investigate any allegation.

It is strongly defending the operation launched earlier this month by the security forces to regain control of a number of prisons where left-wing inmates on hunger strike were barricaded inside their dormitories.

Two soldiers and 29 prisoners were killed in several days of fighting. The government says many of the inmates died after setting themselves on fire.

Prisoners defiant

More than 1,000 prisoners have now been transferred to new prisons, where they are housed in cells holding up to three people and it is here that their relatives say their lives could be in danger.

The Ministry of Justice says the allegation is nonsense and that it could no longer allow inmates to run their prisons themselves. Many prisoners, however, remain defiant.

Several hundred inmates are continuing a hunger strike which began more than two months ago, still apparently determined to fast until death.

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22 Dec 00 | Europe
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Call to end Turkey 'death fast'
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Analysis: Can Turkey fit in?
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