On 11 March 2000, Mehmet Şentürk drove his heavily pregnant wife, Menekşe, to hospital suffering terrible pain. A midwife told the couple nothing was wrong.
But Menekşe was still in pain, so they went to another hospital. Once again, a midwife said there were no complications. No doctor was called for.
The couple decided to travel to a third hospital, where a urologist gave Menekşe painkillers and told her to come back after she had given birth.
By the evening, Menekşe was in agony. Mehmet took her to a fourth hospital where staff carried out an ultrasound scan which showed that Menekşe’s unborn baby had died.
Menekşe needed urgent surgery. But the couple could not afford the operation, so a doctor arranged for Menekşe to be transferred to a non-fee-paying hospital in a private ambulance in which no medical staff were present.
Menekşe died on the way.
The authorities launched an investigation, which lasted until 2008. A Turkish court found some medical staff criminally responsible for Menekşe’s death, but their sentences were suspended, keeping them out of jail.
Menekşe’s husband and son, Bekir, appealed against the ruling. Another court dismissed their appeal because so many years had passed since Menekşe’s death that no further action could be taken.
Mehmet and Bekir looked to the European Court of Human Rights for justice.