10 arrested over alleged Gülenist plot to frame Fenerbahçe executives

Published 23.04.2016 00:00
Updated 23.04.2016 11:59
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An Istanbul court ordered the arrest of 10 people on Saturday over a match-fixing "plot" against Fenerbahçe football club. Fenerbahçe president Aziz Yıldırım and several others were imprisoned for months before being acquitted, in what Yıldırım describes as "a plot to take over Fenerbahçe," a leading team in Turkey's primary league, which Yıldırım blamed on the shady Gülen Movement's "parallel structure."

On Saturday, police arrested 10 suspects out of 29 referred to the court, including police officers, lawyers, and journalists involved in the match-fixing trial.

The suspects face charges of running a terrorist organization, membership of said organization and illegal wiretapping. The terror charges stem from association with FETÖ, a terrorist organization originating from the controversial Gülen Movement, which is blamed for two coup attempts against the government, illegal wiretapping, money-laundering, as well as other charges.

Aziz Yıldırım and six others were acquitted last year on charges of match-fixing, two years after he and others were released from prison, after a year of detention and awaiting trial. The 62-year-old Fenerbahçe boss, who has presided over the club since 1998, was acquitted after new prosecutors replacing Gülen-linked prosecutors found that the charges against him were based on insufficient evidence. Yıldırım maintained his innocence throughout the trial, claiming that evidence, including wiretapped conversations allegedly revealing match-fixing deals, was faked.

His conviction for alleged widespread match-fixing during the 2011-12 season rocked the Turkish football world, although Yıldırım always adamantly denied the charges and blamed the "parallel structure," the name given to infiltrators from the Gülen Movement within police, judiciary and bureaucracy. Fenerbahçe was banned from competing in European football events for two seasons after his conviction. Yıldırım slammed prosecutors linked to the Gülen Movement, claiming they fabricated the allegations against him.

The match-fixing trial was the culmination of an investigation by Prosecutor Zekeriya Öz, who is allegedly linked to the Gülen Movement. Öz remains at large after an investigation into the movement led to the issuing of arrest warrants for Öz and another prosecutor in other cases linked to FETÖ's wrongdoings.

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