Trial of Gülen-linked business group members starts
Some 86 businesspeople, including Ömer Faruk Kavurmacı, the son-in-law of former Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş, appeared at court for the first time on Oct. 23 in an investigation targeting the financial structure of the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
The first trial of business figures charged with involvement in the financial structure of the movement of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen started in Istanbul.
The trial includes members of the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON), shut down for its alleged financial support for FETÖ.
Of the 86 suspects, 31 are in custody and three are fugitives, including Gülen himself, widely believed to have masterminded the failed July 2016 coup attempt.
Also being tried in absentia are former TUSKON chair Rızanur Meral and former TUSKON secretary general Mustafa Muhammet Günay.
Among those in custody are Kavurmacı as well as Faruk and Nejat Güllü, the brothers and co-owners of the well-known Faruk Güllüoğlu baklava chain.
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 were having 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.
The hearing at the 23rd Criminal Court at Istanbul’s Silivri Prison was attended by the lawyers of 78 suspects.
The indictment from the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office seeks three aggravated life sentences for Gülen, who has lived in the U.S. since 1999, Meral and Günay for “attempting to overturn the constitutional order, parliament and the government.”
They also face between five and 22-and-a-half years for “establishing and organizing a terrorist group,” and “forging documents as part of a terror offense.”
Other suspects in the case face between 7.5 and 15 years in jail for “membership of a terrorist group.”