Turkish MP dies after suffering heart attack in parliament


Ankara (Reuters) – An opposition Turkish lawmaker died on Thursday, two days after suffering a heart attack and collapsing in front of parliament as he finished a speech criticising the government’s policy toward Israel.

Hasan Bitmez, 54, a member of parliament from the opposition Felicity (Saadet) Party, died in Ankara City Hospital, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca told reporters in televised remarks.

A graduate of Cairo’s Al Azhar University, Bitmez was the chairman of the Centre for Islamic Union Research and had previously worked for Islamic non-governmental organisations, his parliament biography shows.

He was married and a father of one.

Parliament’s official broadcast showed Bitmez collapsing to the floor after having been standing at the podium before the general assembly on Tuesday.

He had been criticising President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party (AKP) over Turkey’s ongoing trade with Israel despite the war in Gaza, and despite the government’s sharp rhetorical criticism of Israel’s military bombardment.

“You allow ships to go to Israel and you shamelessly call it trade… You are Israel’s accomplice,” Bitmez said in his speech after placing a banner on the podium reading: “Murderer Israel; collaborator AKP”.

“You have the blood of Palestinians on your hands, you are collaborators. You contribute to every bomb Israel drops on Gaza,” he told lawmakers during debate over the foreign ministry’s 2024 budget.

After finishing the speech, Bitmez suddenly fell backward on the floor, with other MPs rushing from their seats to help.

Koca said afterward that an angiography revealed that the two main veins in his heart were completely blocked.

“His heart stopped beating, then he was resuscitated in parliament and transferred within 20 minutes to hospital” where medical machinery kept him alive, Koca had said on Tuesday.

The small Islamist Saadet Party joined the main opposition bloc backing challenger Kemal Kilicdaroglu in May presidential elections against Erdogan, who prevailed.

The alliance’s agreement allowed for Saadet deputies like Bitmez to win seats in parliament by being named on the main opposition party CHP lists.

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