Doctor arrested after calling for Turkish army chemical weapons probe

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci, pictured during a protest in Ankara in February.
Dr. Sebnem Korur Fincanci, pictured during a protest in Ankara in February.   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici, File

Turkish police have detained the president of the country's medical association after she called for a probe into the use of chemical weapons.

Dr Sebnem Korur Fincanci has demanded an independent investigation into allegations that the Turkish military used chemical weapons against Kurdish militants in northern Iraq.

The Ankara chief prosecutor’s office confirmed on Wednesday that the 63-year-old was detained on charges of disseminating “terrorist propaganda” as part of an investigation launched by anti-terrorism police.

She was placed in jail pending trial on Thursday for allegedly disseminating "terrorist propaganda".

Authorities have also asked a court to dismiss Fincanci as president of the chairwoman of the Turkish Doctors' Union (TTB).

Last week, Turkish officials strongly rejected allegations that its military used chemical weapons against the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The group is considered a terrorist organisation in Turkey, Europe, and the United States.

Kurdish fighters released a list of 17 names and photos of people portrayed as alleged "martyrs" killed by poison gas in northern Iraq.

"There are no chemical weapons in the Turkish armed forces' inventory," Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Monday in response.

Fincanci, a forensic expert and leading human rights activist in Turkey, has spent much of her career documenting torture and ill-treatment.

Speaking to pro-Kurdish media, Fincanci said she had "looked at and examined social media images" of alleged chemical weapons victims and called for an “effective investigation".

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused her of slandering Turkey’s armed forces and of insulting her country “by speaking the language of the terrorist organisation.”

The Turkish Medical Association said Fincanci was the victim of a “lynching campaign” and said her detention was unacceptable.

The Human Rights Foundation of Turkey -- where Fincanci has also served as president -- has called for her immediate release.

The doctor’s detention came a day after police conducted raids in several Turkish cities and detained 11 journalists working with pro-Kurdish media.

Police said the journalists were detained over content “that incites the public to hatred and enmity”.