Istanbul court accepts indictment against FETÖ-linked tycoons

Published 16.06.2017 00:00
Updated 16.06.2017 18:44

A criminal court in Istanbul on Friday ruled for the arrest of Ömer Faruk Kavurmacı, CEO of the Aydınlı Grup - a major retailer - as part of an indictment against business tycoons linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).

Kavurmacı had been released under probation on May 4 due to health issues.

Kavurmacı, who is also the son-in-law of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbaş, is accused of being a member of a terrorist organization and is facing a prison term of up to 15 years.

The decision came after the court accepted a bill of indictment against TUSKON - a Turkey-based business association shut down over its support to FETÖ - where a total of 86 suspects face multiple life sentences and lesser prison terms on terror charges.

Faruk Güllü, a prominent tycoon who ran notable cafe and restaurant chain Faruk Güllüoğlu, is also facing the same charges as Kavurmacı.

Out of the total suspects mentioned in the indictment, 30 are in custody while three others remain fugitives.

Among the fugitives are Fetullah Gülen, the leader of FETÖ and the prime suspect in the 2016 coup attempt; Rızanur Meral, the former head of the now-defunct TUSKON business association -- the union of businessmen that was shut down for its alleged affiliation with Gülen; and the union's Secretary-General, Mustafa Muhammet Günay. They will be tried in absentia along with Gülen who has secluded himself in the United States, refusing to stand trial in Turkey.

Meral had made the headlines when he openly threatened the government over operations against FETÖ in 2014.

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.

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.

FETÖ is blamed for running a campaign to overthrow the Turkish government through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary. Thousands of FETÖ members were detained and arrested following the putsch attempt staved off thanks to public resistance.

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