Lighthouse trial begins at Istanbul court

Lighthouse trial begins at Istanbul court

The first hearing of a case involving an embezzlement scandal of the Deniz Feneri (Lighthouse e.V.) charity was held yesterday at Istanbul’s 6th Court for Serious Crimes with the rejection of requests for complainants to be listed as interveners.

The trial related to the Lighthouse e.V. probe in Germany began months after Ankara’s 3rd Court for Serious Crimes approved the related indictment and sent it to the Istanbul court due to a decision that rejected Ankara as a venue for the trial in April.

The 20 defendants in the case, including the former head of the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (RTÜK), Zahid Akman, have been charged with forgery, involvement in forgery conducted by a public official and abuse of confidence while on duty, each an offense that carries a jail term of up to 14 and a half years.

Conviction in Germany

The investigation into the Deniz Feneri charity was launched after a Frankfurt court convicted three managers of the Lighthouse e.V. charity in Germany of embezzling 40 million euros in 2008.

Complainants filed by Mahmut Tanal, a deputy of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and lawyer Zeynel Öztürk requested permission to join the trial as interveners. The court refused their requests on the grounds the complainants were not directly influenced of the crime.

Only 14 defendants were present at the first hearing, despite all 20 defendants being tried without arrest. “Don’t say ‘bye’ to me, I will be following you. I will follow the trial here every day,” Tanal told the defendants as he was leaving the court room after his request was rejected.

Afterwards, two speakers assigned by the state-run radio and television broadcaster, TRT began to read the 526-page indictment in turn.