Turkish Pediatric Hematologist & Oncologist Acquitted
March 24, 2020
On March 19, 2020, pediatric hematologist and oncologist Dr. Murat Tuncer was acquitted of national security-related charges by the Criminal Court in Ankara. He had faced a lengthy prison sentence in an ordeal that lasted almost two years.
Internationally respected for his contributions to cancer research, Dr. Tuncer was a longtime professor of pediatric hematology and oncology at Hacettepe University and rector of the university from 2011-2015. On September 1, 2016, Dr. Tuncer was dismissed from his position at Hacettepe University without cause, investigation, or the opportunity to defend himself. In April 2018, he was taken into custody. In February 2019, following nearly 11 months in detention without charge, Dr. Tuncer was indicted, and his trial began three months later. He faced up to 15 years in prison. Although we understand that the indictment contained no credible evidence to support the charges brought against him, he was kept in jail until late September 2019. Throughout his nearly one and a half years in detention, Dr. Tuncer was held in solitary confinement in Sincan Prison.
Dr. Tuncer was responsible for the collaboration of Turkey’s Ministry of Health with the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), overseeing Turkey’s admission to the WHO agency. As a specialist in pediatric hematology and oncology, Dr. Tuncer served as Director of the Cancer Control Department in the Turkish Ministry of Health, was an executive committee member of the Middle East Cancer Consortium (MECC) and held the role of President of the Asian Pacific Organization for Cancer Prevention (APOCP). Dr. Tuncer also led efforts to raise awareness about cancer by expanding cancer registry and cancer screenings, as well as addressing tobacco use.