Ergenekon suspect weds in jail in bittersweet ceremony

Ergenekon suspect weds in jail in bittersweet ceremony

Ergenekon suspect weds in jail in bittersweet ceremony

Bride Kezban Merey was accompanied by a relative to her wedding at the Hasdal Military Prison Oct 30. DHA photo

Mehmet Ali Çelebi, an Ergenekon coup case suspect, tied the knot in a penitentiary today at a ceremony attended by main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

The 29-year-old lieutenant and his fiancée, Kezban Merey, who met during the hearings of the case held in Istanbul’s Silivri district, had a 20-person wedding at the Hasdal Military Prison where he is serving a prison term of 16 years and six months. Çelebi has appealed the sentence decision.

Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, head of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB) Metin Feyzioğlu and Istanbul Bar head Ümit Kocasakal acted as witnesses at the wedding.

Merey, who is working as a nurse while completing a doctorate in geography in Ankara, said she would wait for her husband, “even it takes 20 years,” for him to get out of jail.

Çelebi, who was detained as part of the Ergenekon coup plot trial for 2.5 years between 2008 and 2011, surrendered at an Istanbul courthouse in August.

Speaking after the wedding ceremony, Kılıçdaroğlu expressed his sadness over the lieutenant’s sentence and called on the authorities to open the way for fairer trial processes.

“We wished them happiness, but it is a dramatic picture,” the CHP leader told reporters.

Recalling that a police officer was determined to be responsible for uploading telephone numbers belonging to members of terrorist organizations onto Çelebi’s phone, Kılıçdaroğlu said the “unfairness that the young lieutenant [experienced] gives me sorrow.”

“Who these people are is unknown. The reason he was arrested is unknown. I’m so sorry. This is the first time I’ve witnessed a case like this,” he said.

Çelebi, who is also a helicopter pilot in addition to being an infantry officer, was first arrested in September 2008 over accusations of keeping phone numbers of members of the Hizb ut-Tahrir terror organization on his cell phone.

However, a report proved that the 139 telephone numbers that were the main reference point for the allegations against Çelebi had been uploaded by the police.

“This is not a picture that we can endure. Everybody should criticize it. We don’t defend criminals. Don’t get me wrong, we say, let the law be meted out righteously,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Sharing his observations at the wedding, Kılçdaroğlu said both the bride and the groom were happy and peaceful, even though they had been subjected to injustice.

“They say ‘Please follow [the situation]. We are facing an unfair process,’ and don’t ask for anything else,” the CHP head said.

Çelebi, before surrendering in August, had said he was innocent and that he trusted only his innocence. “We are sure this will end with justice. We accept this as a new duty. The truth advances, it will gain victory sooner or later. These prices we pay will be a reason for awakening for our nation,” said Çelebi.