Turkish prosecutors seek Gülenist link in alleged murders

Turkish prosecutors seek Gülenist link in alleged murders

Turkish prosecutors seek Gülenist link in alleged murders

File photo from the funeral of slain academic Necip Hablemitoğlu on Dec. 21, 2002. Hürriyet Photo

The Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office had launched an inquiry seeking a possible connection between the alleged “parallel state structure” and a series of alleged murders in Turkey between 2002 and 2013, as well as a deadly 2006 attack against the Council of State in which a judge was killed.

Prosecutors from the Bureau for Crimes Against the Constitutional Order will examine whether there was any connection between three deaths from 2002 and 2013 and the alleged “Fethullahist Terror Organization (FETÖ)/Parallel State Structure (PDY)” led by U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) ally-turned-nemesis, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported late on Dec. 8, citing anonymous sources from the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office.

Those cases include the deaths of Behçet Oktay, the head of a Special Police Forces Unit who is alleged to have shot himself in Ankara in 2009, candidate judge Didem Yaylalı who was found dead in a hotel in Fethiye, southwestern Muğla province in August 2013 in an apparent suicide and Necip Hablemitoğlu, an academic who was shot in Ankara in 2002.

Turkish prosecutors seek Gülenist link in alleged murders

Prosecutors will also reopen a file concerning the deadly attack against the Council of State in 2006. Lawyer Alparslan Aslan, identified as the assailant who killed Council of State judge Mustafa Yücel Özbilgin over a headscarf ban in the fatal shooting, was sentenced to an aggravated life sentence in August 2013.

The study of the prosecutors will focus on the presence of “violence and compulsion,” the agency said.

In addition to prosecutors, intelligence and counterterrorism units from the Ankara Police Department will also be involved in the inquiry, the agency added.

Operations targeting the purported illegal organization President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the AKP government have described as the “FETÖ/PDY” have continued unabated since a parliamentary election won convincingly on Nov. 1 by the AKP. 

Gülen was formerly an ally of Erdoğan and was believed to have wielded considerable influence in the judiciary and the civil service. 

Erdoğan turned against the cleric and his followers, accusing them of constituting a “parallel state” after police and prosecutors seen as sympathetic to Gülen opened a corruption investigation into Erdoğan’s inner circle in 2013. 

Gülen has lived in self-imposed exile in the United States since 1999 and is the subject of arrest warrants in Turkey. A prosecutor is seeking a prison sentence of up to 34 years for Gülen on allegations that he sought to topple Erdoğan. Gülen denies the allegation.