Two judges linked to the Gülen Movement were banned from their profession yesterday after an unlawful release attempt of dozens of suspects affiliated with the movement last year.
The Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which oversees appointments to the judiciary, ruled to bar Metin Özçelik and Mustafa Başer from their judiciary posts for life. Özçelik and Başer were judges behind an attempt to release Hidayet Karaca, head of a media conglomerate linked to Gülenists, and 75 others in April 2015. Karaca and others were imprisoned on terror charges after a plot to implicate critics of the Gülen Movement was discovered.
The movement's many senior members, including its leader Fethullah Gülen, are accused of running a terrorist organization bent on toppling the government. The Gülenist Terror Organization / Parallel State Structure (FETÖ/PDY), as it is officially called, is behind a long list of crimes ranging from illegal wiretapping to blackmail and extortion as well as planting forged evidence, according to multiple indictments.
Özçelik and Başer were already suspended by the HSYK after they were sent to prison following an unlawful release attempt. The HSYK's order is subject to appeal.
The two men were on trial yesterday in Ankara over last year's incident. The first hearing was held at a department of the Supreme Court of Appeals, the only authority that can judge the judiciary members. An indictment calls for multiple life sentences for Özçelik and Başer on charges of attempting to overthrow the government - a charge designated for all members of FETÖ/PDY - as well as abuse of duty.
Metin Özçelik ruled for the discharge of a judge in charge of the case where Karaca and others are being tried and had assigned another court to the case, violating his authority, according to prosecutors.
Hidayet Karaca and other detainees, including prominent police chiefs linked to the movement, are currently on trial for a plot against Tahşiye group, a religious movement known for its opposition to Gülenists. The Gülen Movement is accused of working its way through the upper echelons of the bureaucracy, judiciary and law enforcement by planting infiltrators in state institutions. Its ultimate goal was a complete takeover of the state after ousting the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, according to prosecutors. It is not clear whether Özçelik and Başer are directly linked to the movement. Several other judges and prosecutors accused of masterminding sham trials and investigations to imprison the movement's critics have fled abroad after inquiries into their wrongdoings started last year.