Release of 76 suspects blocked amid gov't-Gülenist tension

Release of 76 suspects blocked amid gov't-Gülenist tension

Release of 76 suspects blocked amid govt-Gülenist tension

Chief Prosecutor Hadi Salihoğlu accused Istanbul's 29th court of “issuing a ruling without seeing the investigation file [and having] no authority and no jurisdiction.”

A Turkish court has ordered the release of 75 policemen and a media manager who were accused of belonging to “the parallel state” of the government’s ally-turned-foe Fethullah Gülen, a U.S. based cleric, but a judge reversed the decision late April 25 as a chief prosecutor also intervened.

The defendants include former Istanbul police intelligence chief Ali Fuat Yılmazer, who was arrested in July, and Samanyolu Media Group General Manager Hidayet Karaca, who was arrested in December 2014. Like the rest of the suspects, both figures were detained as part of a major crackdown against Gülen-linked figures in the security bureaucracy and the media.

The 29th Criminal Court of First Instance in Istanbul forwarded the case on April 24 to the 32th Criminal Court of First Instance, which accepted the defendants’ request for a recusal, ordering their release on April 25. 

The 10th Penal Magistracy of Peace, however, canceled the release late April 25, citing a memo from the Chief Prosecutor’s Office which argued that the court order was unlawful. 

In a written statement late April 25, Chief Prosecutor Hadi Salihoğlu accused the 29th court of “issuing a ruling without seeing the investigation file [and having] no authority and no jurisdiction.” The magistracy’s ultimate decision confirmed that the release orders were “legally null and void,” Salihoğlu said, according to Anadolu Agency.

The defendants’ lawyers, on the other hand, slammed the legal procedure, arguing that “a magistrate cannot overrule the decision of a higher court.”

Defense lawyers Gültekin Avcı and Ömer Turanlı also claimed that Salihoğlu “committed a crime by releasing a statement over an ongoing legal process,” according to Doğan News Agency.

AKP locks horns with Gülenists

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Gülenists have been locking horns since corruption investigations that were launched in December 2013. Ankara has denounced the probes as a “dirty plot” to topple the government, constructed by a “parallel structure” group of civil servants embedded within the country’s key institutions, including the judiciary and police.

Even after massive judicial reshuffling in past months, government figures still claim that certain judges and prosecutors are influenced by Gülenists. 

As legal saga about scores of suspects continued, main opposition Republican People’s Party deputy Mahmut Tanal, a lawyer himself, claimed that the judges who ordered their release could be the next target of the government.

“The judge may be replaced tomorrow,” Tanal said April 26, according to Cihan News Agency.

The suspects in the case are accused of various crimes, including launching an organization to commit crimes, recording non-public conversations and forging official documents. The defendants deny any wrongdoing, claiming that they were targeted for revealing government corruption.