Why are so many police officers in custody?
On the eve of the presidential elections, for the last three weeks, Turkey has been talking about an operation that has seen police officers place other police officers into custody.
Some believe this is an operation of vengeance because the police officers that have been taken into custody and arrested are those who conducted the Dec. 17 and 25 operations of 2013 that made the government face corruption charges.
For some, this in the “parallel structure” operation, because Dec. 17 and 25 were “coup initiatives” and the police officers who took these initiatives are now being held accountable.
These are obviously general comments everyone could utter. Yet, this is a country where there is rule of law, at least on paper, and that’s why judicial investigations should not be done on vengeance, but on evidence and concrete facts.
The prosecution declared the investigation, which led to the arrest of more than 30 police officers on Aug. 5, was conducted on the grounds that these officers by were allegedly spying, illegally wiretapping officials and forging official documents.
But what is the basis of these claims? I can see two of them:
First basis: The report focuses on the Istanbul police
The first one is the report prepared by inspectors of the Interior Ministry finalized a report that was sent to the Istanbul Prosecutor’s on May 14.
The 3,000-page-report focuses on illegal wiretapping by the intelligence and anti–terror departments at Istanbul’s central police office.
In fact, this is actually a preliminary report, as the inspectors have actually had difficulty in making official decisions on wiretapping cases under investigation over the years due to several technical difficulties, which actually are claimed to be a crime in itself. So in order to get over this difficulty, some cases were chosen at random, and only those cases were inspected.
In other words, this is just a handful of samples among the 70,000 wiretapping cases done by Istanbul’s security services over the years; if all the dossiers were to be investigated perhaps the number (of illegal wiretapping) would increase.
Second basis: Irregularities in Selam-Tevhid investigation
The other basis is the police indictment regarding a probe that was started by the Istanbul police in 2010, which was recently closed down by the prosecution.
The name of the terror organization that is being claimed to exist is Selam-Tevhid.
Actually in the past, an organization with this name came under investigation, faced trial and was sentenced. It was claimed the organization was responsible for the killings of Uğur Mumcu and Muammer Aksoy and the perpetrators were found and sentenced.
Yet, to my knowledge, these sentences did not satisfy Mumcu and Aksoy’s families and lawyers, as they were not convinced that the real perpetrators were found.
“Selam-Tevhid” is an organization that seeks to have a revolution in Turkey similar to the Islamic one in Iran, organized rather around the Shiiye faith and have the capacity to penetrate even the closest circle of the prime minister, despite the fact that it is limited in the number of active members – according to the police. The leader of the organization is Nurettin Şirin, the owner of the magazine Selam, who was released from jail in 2004.
The police opened an investigation in 2010 with these claims. While, at the beginning Şirin’s relations were investigated, in 2011 a woman by the name Kamile Yazıcıoğlu went to the Istanbul police office and gave a detailed testimony about her husband Hüseyin Avni Yazıcıoğlu. And all of the sudden, the investigation became bigger, to the point that it resulted in the wiretapping of the telephone of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Hakan Fidan, the head of the National Intelligence Agency (MİT).
While the police were continuing these investigations, the Dec. 17 graft probe occurred, along with the arrest of the members of the police and judiciary.
And at the end, before closing the case on Selam-Tevhid, the Istanbul prosecutors were asked about how the investigation into the group was conducted by the police.
The 1,200-page-long report prepared by the Istanbul police constitutes the second basis for the current operation against the detained police officers.