Judge who permitted MHP extraordinary congress admits Gülen links

Judge who permitted MHP extraordinary congress admits Gülen links

Mesut Hasan Benli - ANKARA
Judge who permitted MHP extraordinary congress admits Gülen links

AA photo

A Turkish judge who paved the way for an extraordinary party congress of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in line with the demands of dissidents within the party has been arrested after admitting to links with the outlawed Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ). 

Judge Burhan Yaz was detained as part of the nationwide anti-FETÖ operations in the aftermath of the July 15 failed coup attempt and admitted during two days of testimony to prosecutors that he had ties to the movement of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who is accused of orchestrating the bloody coup bid. 

In his testimony, Yaz said he was born into an impoverished family and first established ties with the group during his time at university. The judge also admitted that his relationship with FETÖ continued over the years during which he worked as an inspector at the Justice Ministry. 

Yaz played a key role in the controversy surrounding a leadership challenge to the MHP’s long-time leader, Devlet Bahçeli, who was criticized for the party’s poor showing in the Nov. 1, 2015, general elections, in which it won only 11 percent of the vote and won fewer seats than the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in Turkey’s parliament. 

As chair of the Ankara Second Law Enforcement Court, Yaz accepted the objections of MHP dissidents and annulled another court’s decision which halted the extraordinary party congress process. 

However, Yaz rejected accusations that he made the MHP ruling under pressure and said he was abiding by Supreme Court decisions. 

Amid the leadership struggle, Bahçeli claimed the Gülen movement was trying to take control over the MHP and said he would not “surrender to the parallel structure.” He also accused one of his leading rivals, Meral Akşener, of receiving support from Gülenists – a charge she vehemently denied. 

“If I am a ‘parallel’ project for the MHP, then Mr. Bahçeli is himself ‘Chief Parallel.’ But this is not true,” Akşener said, using the Turkish government’s term to refer to sympathizers of Gülen. 

Akşener recently filed a complaint against Ankara Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Melik Gökçek on charges of “insult and slander” for claiming she had links to FETÖ.

Meanwhile, Yaz also admitted being a school friend of former prosecutor Ferhat Sarıkaya, who is accused of trying to include former Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt in a case regarding the bombing of the Umut bookstore in Şemdinli, in a district in the eastern province of Hakkari, on Nov. 9, 2005. Sarıkaya later confessed that he tried to put pressure on Büyükanıt to prevent his rise in the military and ease things for a Gülenist buildup within the army. 

Sarıkaya also opened a number of investigations into top army commanders, including Büyükanıt, then the Land Forces commander and later chief of General Staff. Sarıkaya was disbarred by the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) in 2006, although the ban was removed in April 2011.

Yaz also confessed to delivering money, some 15,000 to 20,000 Turkish Liras, from a person whose name he did not remember to Sarıkaya.