Ergenekon Once Again: an Exemplary Story of How the Law was Abolished

*Source: Sendika.org ©

Ergenekon Once Again:

an Exemplary Story of How the Law was Abolished

Summary

Turkish Supreme Court reversed the ruling of the First Degree Court which convicted many in the famous case known as Ergenekon.  This reversal has put forward the truth known by everyone: A liquidation-torture-revenge operation “pretending to be law” has been carried out in Turkey for the last nine years. This operation that had started nine years ago and proceeded in form of extensive trials that had received intense attention precisely aimed at high ranking military officers, and elites of the society. Not only the severe violation of law but also the social, political, humane and legal destruction caused by the case have been widely debated since then.  In the article published on 27 August 2013 by Research Turkey ([1]), we attempted to review this subject. Today, based on our responsibility of “intellectual follow-up”, we will examine this incident in deference to the updates. In 2013 when the trails were still going on, we asked, “Is it law? Politics? Or revenge?”, but today this question is not relevant anymore as the naked truth is evident. This article argues that this case and other cases related to it are not about law; but partly about politics and mostly about revenge.

***

Let’s Refresh Our Memories: What were “Ergenekon Trials”?

For Turkish people, it has been long known that Ergenekon is a mythological saga. ([2]) Since the end of 1990s this concept echoed a “secret organization within the state operating as rival to the state”.  In 2007, the very same name emerged in Turkish political agenda through a series of trials, which lasted for nine years. It was June 2007 when investigations about a couple of hand grenades found in a shanty house in a suburban area of İstanbul, spread in waves in a short time. In each wave, the scope of investigations widened, as to include another shocking name, and to be combined with other cases. In the end, it left a disaster under the guise of law, blocking the legal and political agenda of Turkey for nine years.

The allegation by the Attorney General was briefly that there was a secret organization called Ergenekon that aimed at triggering ethnical conflicts, ruling the Executive by dragging the country into chaos and at last seizing the whole country.

As the time passed, new allegations have been added to the case. In this process, many other cases have been combined with the Ergenekon investigations. ([3]) As such, with new trials and old ones that had been combined, the case got as extensive as to include 2500 pages as the allegation of the first trial that could barely fit into thousands of folders and 274 defendants ([4])

. The defendants included the 26th Commander of the Turkish armed Forces[5], , retired and active army commanders[6] the President of Council of Higher Education[7], university rectors[8], generals, colonels, famous journalists, authors, politicians, lawyers and even some members of mafia[9] were among the defendants. The August 2013 ruling was as shocking as the list of the defendants; the defendants were sentenced to  aggravated life imprisonment up to 99 years. Retired Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces had been sentenced to life imprisonment.

The Sibling of Ergenekon: Balyoz

While Ergenekon trials continued, other series of individual trials were also drafted, , the most popular of which is known as the Balyoz trials (‘Sledgehammer’).

Balyoz trial started back in October 2010 when a briefcase full of documents allegedly documenting that some high raking military officers were planning to carry out a coup d’etat was submitted to the office of Attorney General by Mehmet Baransu, a journalist from Taraf newspaper. These plots were allegedly organized under the leadership of the First Army Command of Istanbul, aiming at calling for a state of emergency by throwing bombs at mosques to lead to public chaos and to reduce a Greek fighter jet in the Aegean Sea to create a state of war. The briefcase was claimed to include documents and voice records of this plot.  .

The indictment of the July 2010 trial was 968 pages, and the case included 194 defendants, which increased to 365 after additions made to the allegations[10] The September 2011 ruling confirmed almost all allegations. Most of the defendants got sentenced to 13 to 18 years of imprisonment as they were charged with “overthrowing the state”. The Court of Appeal approved most of the sentences[11]

What was the Aim of Trials?

From the start, the format of the operations was not lawful. Houses of retired generals, famous journalists, opinion leaders, and high-esteemed professors were raided by the police at twilight. People who would go and testify if invited were taken under custody loutishly and were arrested after being kept in the corridors of the courthouse for long hours.  Alleged members of the same crime organization met each other for the first time in the court or in the Public Prosecutor’s Office. People abroad came back to Turkey for the custody decision taken against them but got arrested due to “suspicion of escape”. An elderly retired soldier who had neither intention nor physical strength to escape anyway was arrested. Pro-government media agencies declared him as “arrested” before the arrest warrant got authorized. Although the preliminary investigation was classified and not known to public, pro-government media were able to publish the police reports and indictments by the Attorney General openly and to declare that the alleged crimes were “definitely” committed by those taken under custody.   Police found random evidence in random part of the houses raided at twilight. Sometimes it was a memory card that “fell” behind a fridge, or it was a CD “hidden” within the flush. And it was definitely a world record in criminal law that attorney generals found thousands of pages of documents hidden under pavement tiles of a room in five-storey Fleet Command building just in five minutes.

Yes, all these had nothing to do with law. What really happened was due to a hostility comparable to the Nazi era movies. 90 year-old Republic was fought against by adding hundreds of cybercrimes and defendants into a really small kernel.  All Republic institutions, especially Turkish army, were transformed.

The hemorrhage within the Army was not only about sentenced officers, many other high-ranking officers, force commanders, nor about the Chief of Staff who resigned due to the unacceptable allegations.[12] Due to arrests and resignations, the hierarchy of the army got deteriorated so much that officers, who had not hitherto ruled any army corps yet, got assigned to commandership.[13]

Offensive Weapons of Murder of Law:

  1. Specially Authorized Prosecutors and Courts:

The whole process, that is to say law enforcement operations, prosecution investigations and the criminal procedure, was subject to “extraordinary” measures, the most important of which were “specially authorized prosecutors” and “specially authorized courts”.[14] Specially Authorized Courts were established in place of State Security Courts[15] that had existed in Turkish Criminal Law for long years but were abolished in 2004 in accordance with European Union accession process. There were cases where specially authorized attorney generalships and courts could ignore individual rights, and international law to a large extent during an investigation and judgment. For instance, specially authorized prosecutors had the right to inform only one relative of the person caught or taken into custody, to extend  the duration of custody, to prevent the suspect from contacting with more than one lawyer, or to prevent the suspect from contacting with his/her attorney for 24 hours, to carry out search without judicial decision, to prevent the attorney from examining or getting a copy of the case, (charges), to hear  interviews of attorney-client that should have been in private, and, last but least, to monitor the communication of those who are  not members of any  crime organization.

Specially authorized courts, on the other hand, could make arrests without justification, would decline to take some defendants into the court room on the grounds that the room is already crowded with other defendants, carry out the trial in cities different than the crime scene, would not let the defense attorney into the court on the grounds that they “disturb the order”, or could extend the period of detention to 10 years. Besides the “legal” violation of rights, the rulings included serious unlawful aspects. Arrest almost meant sentence in advance. Presumption of innocence was declared null and void. The right to defense got limited due to confidentiality order. Evidence in favor of the defendants were not added to case files.

In summary, in specially authorized aggravated felony courts, it was accepted that all defendants were guilty in advance and should be penalized.[16]

  1. Fake Evidence – Anonymous Witness

In this part of the article, we will explore the “revenge” aspect within the trials:

In order to sentence people who were already accepted as guilty in advance, two unlawful and unethical methods were used: Anonymous witnesses and fake evidence. Prosecutors usually shot using these two weapons. Only in Ergenekon trial, more than 20 anonymous witnesses were heard. Two examples regarding how this “exceptional “method [17] was used unlawfully and unethically should be narrated:

The anonymous witness of the prosecutor charging the 26th Commander of General Staff was one of the important names[18] of separatist organization PKK (The Kurdistan Workers’ Party) that the state had been fighting with for more than 30 years. While Sakık was serving life-time imprisonment sentence since 1998, he was testifying against the Commander of General Staff with the pseudo-name “Deniz” in the criminal court! That means that the chief of Turkish Army was sentenced based on the testimony of the “anonymous” witness he had fought against!

The second example is about “Anonymous Witness 9”, which is as astonishing as the first example. This convict who was sentenced to life-time imprisonment for joining the 2006 attack to State Council, [19], got a re-trial in return for his testimony against Ergenekon defendants and got less imprisonment and had been released in the end[20]. This case is full of stories where non-reliable individuals have been heard as witnesses, who caused the imprisonment of many[21]. .[22]

Another method used in the case was “fake evidence”. The rulings by the courts were based on the assumption that all evidence seized by the police and prosecutors was “absolutely reliable” in advance. Independent expert reports proving that the evidence were fake were completely ignored Defendants claimed that their computer records, electronic materials that had been seized during the searches, were manipulated by the police, their signature was forged, wiretapping records were fabricated, but to no avail.

Some fake evidence stories were astonishing; for example, the company mentioned within the “criminal” document on the CD submitted to the court as evidence has been established long after the incident. On a different note, the document that had been submitted to court as “evidence” has been written in a Microsoft print format which had not been invented yet at the time of the incident. Once, some telephone numbers have been added to the mobile phone of a lieutenant under custody “by mistake”, as put by the police[23].

The Day of Reckoning Has Come

We argue that the proverb, “what comes around goes around”, makes perfect sense for Ergenekon and Balyoz trials. Here are some examples how this proverb proved true within the context of the general argument of this article:

  1. Constitutional Court on Foot and the Abolishment of Special Courts

An article in the comprehensive constitutional amendments which were proposed by the AKP government and accepted after the 2010 referendum has granted the right of individual petition to Constitutional Court to those who believed that their fundamental rights and freedoms are violated by public power. Arrested or not, accused and convicted ones in both Ergenekon and Balyoz cases benefited from this new arrangement and filed petitions to Constitutional Court as individuals due to the “violation of fundamental rights and freedoms during trials”. The Constitutional Court sustained the objections for all Ergenekon suspects starting from 2013 and Balyoz suspects in June 2014.  Except for a few controversies, courts released all suspects and prisoners as a result of violation of rights decision.[24]

Given the decision, Balyoz case has been reheard and concluded with acquittal of all accused.  The reasoned decision of the court in Ergenekon case after a long waiting period have been reversed in accordance with “violation of rights” decision of Constitutional Court. However at the same time there was another favorable progress for the accused and convicted: Special courts have been abolished.[25] Trials which were reheard according to violation of rights decision have been proceeded in other Aggravated Felony Courts without “special authorization”.

  1. Detected Unlawful Occasions

We have mentioned some of the unlawful instances during investigations and trials in previous sections. Constitutional Court, Supreme Court of Appeals and local courts responsible for reassessment of trials explicitly point out to those unlawful occasions and more like them. Violations of rights decisions by Constitutional Court have been based on verdicts such as “automatic rejection of appeal to detention, exceeding reasonable period of detention” since Constitutional Court does not make judgment on the merits as a Court of First Instance.

Regarding the violation of rights decision by Constitutional Court, 4th Aggravated Felony Court of Anatolia reassessed the Balyoz case and returned an acquittal while Penal Department No. 16 of Supreme Court of Appeals which ruled in favor of a reversal in Ergenekon case. In those cases, a long list of unlawful occasions has been drawn up by the above mentioned courts:

(i) Trial of former Chief of General Staff in lower courts instead of Supreme Court;

(ii) Joining unrelated cases without a proper reason; (iii) Irregularities regarding the search of Attorneys’ offices, houses and military milieus; (iv) Lack of evidence qualification in digital data; (v) Unlawful collection of evidences; (vi) Failure to give copies of evidence to the accused; (vii) Lack of original signature in some of the documents counted as criminal evidence; (viii) Inability to prove the existence of Ergenekon criminal organization.

Especially the last item above is the summary of an absurd process of revenge and demobilization under the name of law:  the accusation of “being a member of Ergenekon terrorist organization” which meant jail time for hundreds of people for years, loss of their jobs, death of some due to insufficient ruling and imprisonment conditions, suicide in some cases was a complete fiction! It appeared that there was no terrorist organization!

  1. What Saved the Accused?

When accused people were being evicted and decisions of acquittal were concluded consecutively, the protagonists of the case were on target this time.  The game was in reverse this time: investigations, detentions, and arrest warrants were not for the suspects of Ergenekon or Balyoz cases but for prosecutors and judges who were conducting those cases.

At first, Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors has introduced investigations about prosecutors and judges of Ergenekon, Balyoz and related cases, based on the claim that they did not “conduct a fair trial”. This process resulted in replacement or suspension of judges and prosecutors in question. .[26]

The mere reason for this reversal is what it is called in Turkish political history as “17/25 December” incidents. Detailed examination of this incident is of the topic of another article.  But briefly, “bribery, bid rigging, misconduct in office, fraud and smuggling” investigations have been pressed  against businessmen,   bank managers, bureaucrats, four ministers in government, and three sons of ministers. While public was still in shock, prosecutors, on 25 December 2013, tried to detain Bilal Erdoğan, son of the then Prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and file an investigation  but this effort was denied by the Ministry of Interior.[27]

Parallel State of Fethullah Gülen

17/25 December investigations[28] were actually the peak point of a crisis which could be seen from a mile away. Fethullah Gülen[29], who had established a “masonic”[30] organization under the name of “Hizmet (Service) Movement” of Islamic nature based on volunteerism and submission, has been significantly supporting AKP since the establishment of the party. However, complete consensus between Gülen Movement and AKP’s political programme, ideology and agenda has weakened through time. [31] Especially after 2012, AKP and Prime Minister Erdoğan have taken a series of measures directed to Gülen Movement to limit its power.

The conflict started so slow that it was not noticed in the first instance.  However, decision of government to close down Dershanes which were the most significant part of Gülen Movement’s activities/business severed the tension between the parties. This enmity was the reason behind the AKP and Erdoğan’s claim regarding 17-25 December Incidents that the incidents have been fabricated by the police and prosecutors who are supporting Gülen Movement.

Prime Minister Erdoğan reacted aggressively to 17-25 December Incidents. He defined the investigations as an “attempted coup” against himself. High ranking police officers have been dismissed, legal investigations were held against judges and prosecutors; a broadcasting ban has been enacted for news and images regarding the investigations; even social media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have been banned. Investigations in parliament on four ministers claiming they have involved in briberies have been overruled by the votes of AKP deputies.

Judges, prosecutors and high ranking police officers conducting 17-25 December investigations were almost the same people who were responsible for conducting Ergenekon cases.  Therefore, the AKP and Erdoğan’s “confirming, supportive” attitude towards Ergenekon cases has changed radically. Zekeriya Öz, the well-known prosecutor of Ergenekon cases, was appointed to some remote town and his authorities have been stripped of once he got involved in 17-25 December investigations. Then he got dismissed from his profession and an arrest warrant has been issued for him[32].

Erdoğan’s decline of support for the Ergenekon trials and relevant cases as a reaction to 17-25 December investigations have revealed that those cases were served by Gülen Movement from the beginning.

We should also note a significant detail here. The main development that led to the reversal of the Ergenekon case was the constitutional amendment granting right to petition to the Constitutional Court for individuals did not aim to improve the rule of law. It was only an ostensible move designed for easier acceptance of an amendment package[33] by public which would enable AKP to redesign Constitutional Court, which almost closed down the AKP, and to restructure higher judicial bodies and Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors.

Conclusion

Ergenekon, Balyoz and relevant cases have drained energy of everyone living in Turkey for the last nine years.  Hundreds of people including veteran and active military officers, scientists, politicians, journalists, opinion leaders in society, i.e. the Western-minded citizens of Turkey have been seriously damaged in those cases. Some people have been in jail more than five years. Some committed suicide while some of them lost their lives due to unhealthy conditions in the prison. Turkish Army have lost many qualified officers and its hierarchy and expertise have been damaged.

Now it is revealed that all operations and investigations were completely motivated by the feeling of revenge, aiming at demobilizing a 90 year-old Turkish republic and its institutions. The recent decision of reversal by the Supreme Court of Appeals was the last and most important sign of this undeniable fact. Supreme Court of Appeals decided to reverse the case on both procedural and principal reasons. From now on, imprisonment sentences cannot be given as it used to be.

Some people may still say “But there were efforts to stage a coup” and maybe there truly were. When things have changed you cannot turn back to starting point, if you allege some “preparations which were never in practice” to instrumentalize judiciary for your own revenge and use it for eliminating your own enemies. You cannot pretend like nothing happened after you violate the whole judiciary system. That ship has long sailed.

The essential damage caused by Ergenekon and the relevant cases was the loss of confidence in judiciary, polarization of society and the feeling of insecurity that created the feeling of “it may also happen to me”. Who could say concerns such as “They may invade my house or find a kind of microchip behind my refrigerator or even fake my signature and get me in jail for years” are idle concerns?

Another damage should be noticed. We noted in 2013 that the loss of reputation in the army and emergence of disruption of command echelon as well disputes, distrusts, betrayals even hostilities between high ranking officials during those trials. It is really desperate for army, which has been accused with unjust and serious accusations, being unable to defend itself within the scope of judiciary. What more desperate is the fact that there were groupings in the command echelon and the possibility of cooperation between some high ranking military officials and government for their friends’ judicial liquidation.

What most plaintive is the most people who have followed these cases closely think in a way that if there were no conflict between AKP (actually Prime Minister Erdoğan) and Fethullah Gülen, there would not be any 17-25 December investigations, therefore Special Courts would not have been abolished and the decisions in Ergenekon and its sub-cases would not be concluded as they have been concluded now.

It could be said that we should be thankful for the “delayed and half” justice to furious conflict between Fethullah Gülen and Erdoğan; not to the victory of the rule of law. Also we should be thankful to this conflict for revealing a years-long structure within the state which almost had the power to bring the state down with fake trials and investigations.

What a plaintive consolation for a democratic constitutional state it is…

*The thoughts reflected in this paper are solely that of the author and are non-attributed to any other entities.

Hıfzı Deveci, Retired Member of the State Supervisory Council

Please cite this publication as follows:

Deveci H. (June, 2016), “Ergenekon Once Again:an Exemplary Story of How the Law was Abolished”, Vol. V, Issue 6, pp.75 – 86, Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), London, Research Turkey. (http://researchturkey.org/?p=12065)

Endnotes

[1] Hıfzı DEVECİ, “Ergenekon Case and Turkish Army at Snare: Is it Law, Politics or Revenge?” http://researchturkey.org/ergenekon-case-and-turkish-army-at-snare-is-it-law-politics-or-revenge/

[2] In some resources the saga claiming to be originating from Mongol roots is mostly believed to be about Gokturks from Hun ancestry. It takes place around 2nd century A.C.

[3] The most important ones of these 20 cases added to the main case are these:

  • Case of armed assault to State Council;
  • Case of Molotov cocktail thrown to Cumhuriyet newspaper;
  • Case of assassination attempt to Rum Orthodox Patriarch;
  • Case of ammunition found buried in İstanbul, Poyrazköy;
  • Case of assassination attempts to some admirals;
  • Case of plotting a coup d’état with the name of action plan against reactionary forces;
  • Case of plotting a coup d’état creating and administering web sites.

[4]Justified decision of court was 16.000 pages.

[5] Commander of the Turkish Armed Forces İlker Başbuğ

[6] Retired Commander of the Turkish Gendarmerie Forces Şener Eruygur and Retired First Army Commander Hurşit Tolon.

[7] Prof. Kemal Gürüz.

[8] Prof. Fatih Hilmioğlu, Prof. Kemal Alemdaroğlu, Prof. Mustafa Abbas Yurtkuran,  Prof. Ferit Bernay and Prof. Mehmet Haberal

[9] Sedat Peker and Sami Hoştan

[10] The most famous addition to Balyoz trial was the case of espionage and prostitution blackmailing presented based on documents found under floor in Gölcük Fleet Command

[11] Only sentences of 88 defendants had been overruled for re-trial during the appeal process.

[12] Chief of General Staff Işık Koşaner, Commander of Land Forces Erdal Ceylanoğlu, Navy Commander Admiral Eşref Uğur Yiğit, Commander of the Turkish Air Force Hasan Aksay, Navy Fleet Commander, Admiral Nusret Güner.

[13] The most important example of the hierarchical impairment has been the case of Necdet Özel. In Turkish army, it is a tradition to assign the Chief of Staff amongst those who had previously served as a Commander of Land Forces. Upon the resignation of Işık Koşaner, Commander of the Turkish Gendarmerie Forces Necdet Özel who had not even filled one year in his duty, was assigned as the Commander of Land Forces to abide by customs and was charged as Chief of General Staff the same day.

[14] Turkey, in fact is not a stranger to extraordinary criminal proceedings and judgments. Independence Courts, Military Commissions, Yassıada Courts, Emergency Courts, State Security Courts that existed in Turkish Law history were all “extraordinary” courts. All names above were temporary by definition, while State Security Courts were permanent.

Source: http://www.yarsuvat-law.com.tr/articles/article4.pdf

[15] State Security Courts entered the Turkish Law with a change in 143. Article of the constitution in 1972. In State Security Courts, there was a military judge. The existence of military judges would return from European Court of Human Rights causing Turkey to pay compensation. In 1999, military judges were taken out of councils, and in 2004 in accordance with European Union participation reforms, were removed. In the same year, with a change in Criminal Procedure Law State Security Courts were substituted with Aggravated Felony Courts.

[16] Source: http://www.yarsuvat-law.com.tr/articles/article4.pdf

[17]Though anonymous witness has always been in the Law of Criminal Procedure, the public has heard the concept for the first time with these trials

[18] PKK executive Şemdin Sakık got caught by a military operation in April, 1998 and sentenced to lifetime imprisonment, and put into Diyarbakır E Type Prison. Before becoming an anonymous witness, he demanded to benefit from repentance law but rejected by the court.

[19]The assailant of the State Council building on 17 May 2006, Alpaslan Arslan murdered the Judge Mustaca Yücel Özbilgin, also wounded the head of department and three other judges.

[20] Osman Yıldırım who got sentenced to lifetime imprisonment for planning the assault to State Council with Alpaslan Arslan made confessions to prosecutors, gave some testimonies against Ergenekon defendants associating them with the attack to Cumhuriyet newspaper building. With his statement, Cumhuriyet newspaper case was joined with Ergenekon case, Osman Yıldırım was provided with re-trial and sentenced to 8 years and 9 months of imprisonment and released after time served! The crime record of Osman Yıldırım was quite long: Murder, woman trafficking, injury, forgery, insult to public officer. He is currently lost.

[21] Some interesting witness stories:

İlker Çınar who testified with the code name “Deniz Uygar” was a professional witness! He had been anonymous witness of the death of Turgut Özal, Zirve Publishing murder other than Ergenekon and Balyoz cases.

In Balyoz trial, 20 officers and sergeants testified too.

Bayram Bozkurt Chief Prosecutor of the Republic, Erzincan İliç testified with the code name “Anonymous Witness Efe”. This anonymous witness Efe retired after his name was revealed; his appearance and identification got changed with aesthetic operations based on witness protection program and started to work as a lawyer. He was assigned as prosecutor in a district of Ankara in 2013 with his new id but discharged due to his “bad record.”

Source: http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/simdi-sira-gizli-taniklarda-27970347

[22] Osman Yıldırım who got sentenced to lifetime imprisonment for plotting the State Council assault together with Alpaslan Arslan made confessions to prosecutors, testified against Ergenekon defendants claiming that the defendants were involved in the attacking of Cumhuriyet newspaper building. With his statement, Cumhuriyet newspaper case has been joined with Ergenekon case, Osman Yıldırım was provided with re-trial and was sentenced to 8 years and 9 months of imprisonment and released for time served! The crime file of Osman Yıldırım was quite long: Murder, woman trafficking, injury, forgery and insult to public officer. He is currently lost.

[23]Objections to fake evidence as such has been sustained in favor of the defendants.

[24] 13th Aggravated Felony Court of Istanbul, which conducting the Ergenekon case, disregarded violation of rights decision by Constitutional Court by refusing the request to release and refused to transfer case file to the newly appointed 20th Aggravated Felony Court. Regards to occasions, Hâkimler ve Savcılar Yüksek Kurulu (Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors) have launched an investigation to the members of related courts. What is interesting is removal of “specially authorized” status of the 13th Aggravated Felony Court with a legislative regulation in the midst of all this.

[25] New regulation regarding abolishment of Special Courts have been enacted with Article No. 105 of Law No. 6352 accepted on 02.07.2012. It has also been stipulated that the pending cases will be heard by these courts in accordance with Provisional Article 2/4 of the same law. Later, Special Courts have been abolished according to First Article of Law No. 6526 which adopted in 21.02.2014

[26] Judges and prosecutors who have been assigned in Ergenekon and related cases and fled abroad in the end were Cihan Kansız, Zekeriya Öz, Celal Kara, Mehmet Yüzgeç, Muammer Akkaş, Fikret Seçen

[27] 17/25 December Incidents were an unprecented chain of events. Ordinary citizens woke up with another shocking claim almost every day, including phone conversations of “illegal” content among Prime Minister, various Ministers and their family members, shoe boxes full of money taken out from bank managers’ houses, significant amount of foreign currencies detected in ministers’ family members, etc.

[28] In fact, it is better to call it “attempt of investigation”. Because AKP and Prime Minister Erdoğan succeeded to maneuver by quickly taking legal and administrative measures. Family members and public servants have been evacuated fast while investigator judges, prosecutors, police officers have been appointed to another positions and suspected ministers have been put under protection by Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi (Grand National Assembly of Turkey) (TBMM). Hence, AKP and Erdoğan got through 17/25 December Incidents with “a little damage”.

[29] Fethullah Gülen is a Imam and a preacher. Thanks to his rhetorical skills, he was able to attract crowded followers, realized significant thrust in education sector through years, established many schools and dershanes (private course centers) in Turkey and abroad in addition to be able to adhering many executive cadres of big industrial corporations together with owners of newspapers, TV channels to himself.

[30] The reason term “masonic” has been used is the lack of any official facet of so-called Hizmet (Service) Movement and the fact that organizational aspect is fully based on volunteering. It is not on legal grounds such as associations or unions; it has no board of directors, manager, administrative center, accountants, and even any member list. 17-25 December Incidents have revealed that the movement has a significant number of followers in Turkish administrative structure, especially in fundamental departments such as security forces, judiciary, civil administration and health. There are also serious claims regarding also having supporters in middle and high ranking military officials, even among generals. Fethullah Gülen went to USA in 1999 as he thought political climate back then might cause trouble for him and never came back. He lives in Pennsylvania.

[31] Even today, no one is confident about what the reason was for the conflict between Gülen and Erdoğan. Predictions are pointing out Gülen had become “too much powerful” within the state and Erdoğan’s lack of tolerance to this situation.

[32] Zekeriya Öz, once a prosecutor with an armored car, has got away from being arrested, for now, by fleeing abroad. He is still a fugitive.

[33] Underlying ground of AKP’s problems with higher judicial bodies is the traumatic effects of the closing case against AKP, which they had a close call. Constitutional Court has also cancelled some dispositional rights of AKP. Because of this, AKP aimed to restructure Supreme Court of Appeals, Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, Military Court with amendment package. Other provisions of the package did not involve major problems in the context of democratic constitutional state.

Source: Prof Dr Yusuf Şevki Hakyemez, “The 2010 Constitutional Amendments and the Rule of Law” Gazi University Faculty of Law Journal, C.XVI, Year 2010, Issue 2.

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