Ex-footballers face jail terms in Turkey’s coup probe

Ex-footballers face jail terms in Turkey’s coup probe

ISTANBUL - Agence France-Presse
Ex-footballers face jail terms in Turkey’s coup probe

Bekir İrtegün

Six former Turkish footballers, most of them ex-national team players, face up to 15 years in jail on charges of membership of the group blamed for the July 2016 military coup attempt, the indictment in the case showed on June 13.

The network of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen is widely believed to have been behind the coup attempt. 

Several players have been investigated in what prosecutors call a “structure” within football set up by Gülen to investigate the Turkish game. 

Prosecutors have asked for jail sentences between seven-and-a-half to 15 years for the footballers on charges of “membership of an armed terror group.” 

Those charged include Ömer Çatkıç, capped 19 times for Turkey’s national team and was in the squad for the 2002 World Cup when Turkey memorably won third place.

Also charged are former international footballers Bekir İrtegün, Zafer Biryol and Uğur Boral.

Both Çatkıç and Biryol are currently in jail, while the other suspects are free under judicial supervision but still charged. The trial will start in the next days.  

Several of the suspects, including Çatkıç, are accused of downloading and sending messages through the ByLock messaging app, which the authorities suspect was used by Gülen’s supporters to coordinate the coup bid.

Charged in a separate case is former star striker Hakan Şükür, who currently lives in the United States.

July 15 coup attempt,