Two former judges face life sentences over ‘parallel state’ claims
ISTANBUL – Anadolu AgencyTwo former judges who were arrested for ordering the release of 76 suspects charged with alleged links to the “parallel state” of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen face aggravated life sentences on multiple charges, according to an indictment prepared in the case.
The indictment, which was prepared by Bakırköy Deputy Chief Prosecutor İdris Kurt, accused former judges Metin Özçelik and Mustafa Başer of attempting to overthrow the government or hinder the government’s operation in part or in full, being members of an armed organization, abuse of office and violations of privacy.
The indictment demands aggravated life sentences for each of the alleged crimes and jail time of up to 16 years for each of the suspects. The Bakırköy 2nd Court of Serious Crimes will evaluate the indictment and decide whether or not to accept it as a case or drop the charges against the two former judges.
Özçelik, a former judge of the Istanbul 29nd Penal Court of First Instance, was arrested on April 30 with an order from the Bakirkoy 2nd High Criminal Court. An arrest warrant was also issued later for his colleague, Başer, who came to the Bakırköy courthouse to surrender on May 1.
In late April, the two judges issued an order to release the 75 former police officers and the head of the Samanyolu TV station, Hidayet Karaca, from police custody. All are accused of being members of the pro-Gülen “parallel state” aimed at overthrowing the government and President Recep Tayip Erdoğan, as well as being members of an armed terrorist organization.
Their ruling had been blocked by a higher court and the judges themselves were then suspended by Turkey’s Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) on the grounds of damaging the reputation and influence of the judiciary.
The 76 suspects were never released and remain in detention. They were all initially detained in a series of raids that started in 2014 against supporters of Gülen in the Turkish bureaucracy.
The indictment stated that there no doubt that Özçelik and Başer had committed the alleged crimes.