Prosecutors have wrapped up an indictment against business tycoons linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), where a total of 86 suspects, including the head of a once influential business association, face multiple life sentences and lesser prison terms on terror charges.
Among the defendants is the group's leader, Fetullah Gülen, who is already the prime suspect in the 2016 coup attempt and in several other trials.
Rızanur Meral, the former head of the now-defunct TUSKON business association and its secretary-general Mustafa Muhammet Günay, will be tried in absentia along with Gülen who has secluded himself in the United States, refusing to stand trial in Turkey.
Meral made the headlines when he openly threatened the government over operations against FETÖ in 2014.
Faruk Güllü, a prominent tycoon who ran notable cafe and restaurant chain Faruk Güllüoğlu, and Ömer Faruk Kavurmacı, CEO of the Aydınlı Grup, a major retailer, are the other defendants in the case.
The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office had launched an investigation into TUSKON, which is regarded as the main business association directly run by the terrorist group, following a failed coup attempt in July 2016.
Thirty-one suspects, mostly businesspeople who were members of the association, were arrested while others have been released pending trial.
Gülen, Meral and Günay face life sentences for their involvement in the coup attempt. Gülen also faces charges for running a terrorist organization, while Kavurmacı and Güllü are accused of being members of a terrorist organization and face prison terms of up to 15 years.
The indictment is based on reports by a financial crimes investigation committee and testimonies of secret witnesses, as well as evidence linking suspects to FETÖ such as their use of Bylock, an encrypted messaging app that was exclusively used by the terrorist group's members.
TUSKON, founded in 2005, had 55,000 members and some 211 local associations before it was shut down as part of the post-coup fight against FETÖ. It is accused of funding FETÖ through its member companies.
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