Jailed Kavurmacı demands his release in TUSKON trial

Jailed Kavurmacı demands his release in TUSKON trial

Eyüp Serbest - ISTANBUL
Jailed Kavurmacı demands his release in TUSKON trial

Ömer Faruk Kavurmacı, the son-in-law of former Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş, made his defense on Oct. 30 in an investigation targeting the financial structure of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), denying claims that he was a member of the Gülen network and demanded for his release.

The trial includes members of the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON), shut down for its alleged financial support of FETÖ.

“I deny the accusations. I am not a member of the organization [Gülen network]. I have not undertaken in its propaganda. I am not among the founders of TUSKON,” Kavurmacı said, as his defense at the court had been taken for the first time since the hearings started last week on Oct. 23.

“Following the speech of betrayal at the TUSKON general assembly [in 2014 when the TUSKON head had defied the then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan], I did not applaud and protested by not standing. I was the one who was the first among the management to protest them. I unregistered my children from the Fatih Kolej [a Gülen-movement affiliated school] in June 2014. I have done this upon the call of the president, which shows I am not a member of the organization,” Kavurmacı said.

Kavurmacı continued his defense by saying he does not have an account with Bank Asya, which was seized by the state in 2015 over its links with the Gülen movement and has also never used ByLock, an encrypted messaging application—said to have been used by FETÖ members. He also said he did not flee abroad following last year’s coup attempt, widely believed to have been orchestrated by the Gülen movement.

“I am a partner of a company that has 500 retail stores in the country and abroad with 4,200 employees. I demand that the measures and the decisions of a trustee appointment [on the company] be lifted, as the incident has turned unbearable for myself and my family,” he told the court in the five minutes he was given.

Kavurmacı, who was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2005, was arrested in September 2016 but was later released in May on the grounds that prison conditions had a negative effect on his health. Following criticism of his release from a number of opposition politicians and from members of the public, Kavurmacı was rearrested in June.

Among those standing trial in custody in the case are also Faruk and Nejat Güllü, the brothers and co-owners of the well-known Faruk Güllüoğlu baklava chain.

“I am not a member of FETÖ. I have never joined any association meeting after 2010. Even through my name was written on the fifth and sixth general assembly of TUSKON, I was not there. Bank Asya is the bank that has been brought to the point of bankruptcy … I learned about the 15 July [2016] while I was in the store in Güneşli [neighborhood in Istanbul’s Bağcılar district], Faruk Güllü said, similarly demanding he be released and acquitted.

Of the 86 suspects standing trial in the case, 31 are in custody and three are fugitives, including the U.S.-based Fethullah Gülen.

Meanwhile, the number of on-duty soldiers who have been detained for alleged links to FETÖ as part of an investigation launched by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office in central Konya province last week has increased to 58, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Oct. 30.

The Konya police had ordered the launch of operations in 31 provinces on Oct. 26.

A search for 12 fugitives is underway.