Court acquits police officer accused of creating false evidence against Ergenekon convict
ISTANBUL – Doğan News AgencyAn Istanbul court has acquitted a police officer accused of copying several phone numbers to the cell phone of Lt. Mehmet Ali Çelebi, which was later used as evidence against Çelebi during his trials in the Ergenekon coup plot case.
The Istanbul 18th Criminal Court of Peace acquitted police officer Hanefi Öpaydın today on charges of negligence of duty. Öpaydın could have been given up to two years in prison on charges of transferring several phone numbers to the mobile phone of an Ergenekon suspect in 2008.
Prosecutor Seyfettin Atıcı said in the indictment that the 139 phone numbers in the cell phone of Mahmut Oğuz Kazancı, a suspect detained in a police station, had been transferred to Çelebi’s phone in 2008, when Çelebi was also detained in the same police station as part of a separate case. Atıcı said Öpaydın should be tried on charges of negligence of duty.
Çelebi, who had been detained as part of the Ergenekon coup plot trial for 2.5 years between 2008 and 2011, was released until Aug. 14, when he was sentenced to 16 years and six months in prison. The courthouse sentenced him on the grounds of “being a member of the Ergenekon armed terror organization and distributing or seizing data illegally.”
Çelebi, who is also a helicopter pilot in addition to being an infantry officer, was first arrested in September 2008. The prosecutor had accused Çelebi of keeping the phone numbers of members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir terror organization on his cell phone, daily Hürriyet reported. A report from Turkey’s Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) had proved that the 139 telephone numbers belonging to the members of the terrorist organization that were the main reference point for the allegations against Çelebi had been uploaded to Çelebi’s cell phone all together in one minute and one second, and were the last numbers to be saved.
The report also showed that Çelebi’s cell phone had sent signals for one minute and 22 seconds to the Fatih base station, the neighborhood in which the Istanbul Police Directorate is located, on Sept. 19, 2008, the day when Çelebi’s cell phone was handed in to the police officers at the directorate. An expert report showed that the cell phone was delivered to the expert, who would investigate the cell phone’s activities, five hours after the signals were received from the police directorate, during which time the cell phone should have been kept untouched in a sealed bag.