Investigators have discovered that İsmail Hakkı Sarıcaoğlu, a policeman who shot dead Altuğ Verdi, the police chief in Rize province, had connections with the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
Sarıcaoğlu was arrested after he shot Verdi dead on Dec. 11 in the northern province, allegedly in anger over the chief's refusal to reassign him. An investigation discovered that the suspect was a former member of FETÖ, which is blamed for the July 15, 2016 coup attempt. Authorities are investigating if Sarıcaoğlu maintained ties with the group while claiming to have severed his connection.
Altuğ Verdi, the police chief of Üsküdar in 2016, when FETÖ-linked putschists invaded a police station and attacked police officers opposing them during the coup attempt, was defamed on social media by Gülenists who claim he tortured FETÖ members.
Sarıcaoğlu's name was on a list of former FETÖ members supplied to authorities earlier in another investigation of the terrorist group provided by "Garson" who agreed to serve as a witness under this alias, showing that the suspect regularly attended meetings of FETÖ members. Police are now questioning Sarıcaoğlu's next of kin and examining his phone contacts to see whether he kept in contact with Gülenists.
Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, a FETÖ-linked policeman who gained notoriety when he shot the Russian ambassador dead in Ankara, was also classified as a former FETÖ member based on accounts by fellow members of the group who collaborated with authorities, but a subsequent investigation showed he secretly kept communicating with his handlers in FETÖ.
FETÖ, which expanded its clout in Turkey over the past three decades, is known for its wide network of infiltrators in law enforcement, the military, judiciary and bureaucracy. The state of emergency declared after the coup attempt sped up the crackdown on the terrorist group's infiltrators. Tens of thousands were detained or arrested and dismissed from their jobs in the public sector after the attempt.