Jail term for former minister approved in Turkey
Former minister and police chief Mehmet Ağar denies charges against him and says he has been convicted unfairly.Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has upheld a five-year jail sentence for former minister and national police chief Mehmet Ağar, on charges that he set up an illegal armed organization for criminal activities, Anatolia news agency reported yesterday.
Ağar has one legal recourse remaining to avert the sentence – an application to the Supreme Court of Appeals to review the ruling - but it is unlikely to bear fruit in his case. He is expected to serve three years and nine months under the law regulating the execution of sentences.
In comments on the verdict, Ağar said he had been convicted unfairly. The offences “could be considered as neglect of duty, but not a crime. I never did anything that would shame those who love me,” he told reporters in Istanbul. Asked what he would do next, he said: “I’ll do whatever any citizen is supposed to do.”
The Ankara 11th High Criminal Court had sentenced Ağar in September last year, in the final case over the so-called Susurluk scandal of 1996, when Ağar was head of the national police. The scandal exposed links between the police, the mafia and politicians, after a car accident in the northwestern town of Susurluk. Hüseyin Kocadağ, a former police chief, high-profile fugitive criminal Abdullah Çatlı and Sedat Bucak, a Member of Parliament, were travelling together in the car before the accident, carrying several weapons and fake identity cards.
Ağar was convicted for offenses during his term as chief of police, from 1993 to 1995, before he was elected to Parliament for the now-defunct True Path Party (DYP). He served brief stints as justice and interior minister in 1996. His prosecution became possible in 2007 when he lost his parliamentary immunity.
In February 2008, charges were filed against him for “establishing an armed organization to commit crime.” Ağar was held responsible for weapons that went missing after being brought from Israel. During the trial, Ağar described the issue of the missing weapons as a state secret. It is believed that many of the weapons were used in extrajudicial killings in the southeast.
Ağar was also accused of having provided gun licenses and special passports to Çatlı, a far-right militant involved in several murders.