Five police officers to remain free pending trial in Turkish PM Erdoğan wiretapping case
Mesut Hasan BENLİ - ANKARAAn Ankara court has ruled that five police officers should remain free pending trial, in the case into the illegal wiretapping of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's office.
A prosecutor had issued search warrants for 12 police officers in the probe earlier this month. Eleven officers, including Erdoğan’s former chief bodyguard, were then detained at their homes on June 17, while a local police chief, who is suspected of planting the bug, was not detained because he was out of the country at the time.
The first six suspects were released following their interrogation by a prosecutor. An Ankara court later released the remaining five suspects in a ruling that was later reversed by another local court.
The 11th Serious Crimes Court in Ankara, a higher authority, ruled to remove all arrest warrants on June 27, citing a “lack of evidence” and stating that “there is no suspicion that the suspects may run away, manipulate the evidence or put pressure on the witnesses.”
The court found irregularities with the search conducted to find the bug devices, while stressing that the report about the incident was not prepared by an expert. The ruling also emphasized that the images of the bugging devices were taken by the cell phone of Mustafa Varank, one of Erdoğan’s chief advisors.
Four civil servants were previously identified as “potential suspects” in the wiretapping scandal. Erdoğan made public on Dec. 21, 2012 that wiretapping devices had been found in his office and home, describing the move as “open espionage.”
An Ankara prosecutor dealing with anti-terror cases immediately launched an investigation, on the grounds that it involved an espionage-related crime.
Following the abolition of the Specially Authorized Courts dealing with terror-related crimes in March this year, the case was transferred to another prosecutor dealing with offenses against the constitutional order. Many of the bodyguards and security forces believed to have access to the prime minister’s office have testified as part of the case so far.
The bugging devices, which have already been erased, were sent to the prosecutor in May and taken in by the court’s evidence unit.