Two Istanbul judges to be tried in ‘parallel state’ case
ISTANBUL – Doğan News AgencyTwo judges under pre-trial arrest for alleged links to a purported illegal organization, which President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his inner circle call the “Fetullahist Terrorist Organization [FTÖ],” will be tried by a court in Istanbul’s Bakırköy district.
The two justices Metin Özçelik and Mustafa Başer, who were arrested for ruling the release of 76 suspects thought to have links to the so-called FTÖ, will be tried on charges of “attempting to topple the government of the Republic of Turkey,” “membership of a terrorist organization,” “abuse of power on duty,” and “violation of privacy.” The charges were approved by the Bakırköy 2nd Court for Serious Crimes on Oct. 6.
The FTÖ is a term used by President Erdoğan and leading figures from the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to refer to sympathizers of their ally-turned-nemesis, the U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fetullah Gülen.
The indictment claims that Özçelik and Başer are members of the FTÖ and fulfilled the demands of the purported organization.
Both judges were dismissed by the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) on Jul. 14, 2015, months after Başer and Özçelik provided the legal ground for the release of arrested suspects in the case filed against the FTÖ.
The Bakırköy 2nd Court for Serious Crimes has set a 15-day deadline for Başer and Özçelik to submit any information, document or evidence in the case.
The court will then send the indictment to the Supreme Court of Appeals to start their trial.
In late April, Başer and Özçelik issued a ruling to release 75 former police officers and the head of private broadcaster Samanyolu TV Hidayet Karaca, from custody. All 76 were accused of being members of the FTÖ.
The ruling was blocked at the time by a higher court and the two judges were suspended by the HSYK, which said they had “damaged the reputation and influence of the judiciary.”
Erdoğan and his inner circle have long accused followers of Gülen of forming a “parallel structure” – state within a state – to topple the Turkish government, with its purported members working as insiders in the police and other state institutions.