A court in Turkey sentenced Wednesday a high-ranking member of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the group behind the failed July 15 coup attempt, to 12 years and six months in jail over terrorism charges and his role in the group.
Şakir Batmaz was given the jail term by the 2nd Criminal Court in Turkey's central Kayseri province. He is the brother of Kemal Batmaz - a key FETÖ figure who was captured at a military base in Ankara during the coup attempt and is accused of being the "Air Forces imam" or chief FETÖ handler responsible for the group's infiltrators in the Turkish military.
The prosecutor in the case asserted that defendant Batmaz was accused of "managing a terrorist organization" as evident in investigations led by evidences, including the confessions of another FETÖ member, identified as A.Ö who was the so-called "political imam" in charge of the central Anatolian region, and digital recordings that have revealed the communications between the defendant and other high-ranking FETÖ members.
The evidence presented by the prosecution included statements from the academic staff of Erciyes University where Batmaz had previously served as an instructor and was accused of interfering with the rectorate elections. The defendant denied the accusations.
Batmaz was previously arrested on charges of "being a member of a terrorist organization" in an operation in August 2016 in Kayseri targeting FETÖ members in Erciyes University but was later released on court orders..
Following his release, another indictment against Batmaz was filed by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office. The 20th High Criminal Court in Ankara accepted the indictment and transferred the files to the Kayseri court, ruling a "lack of jurisdiction".
The defendant's brother Kemal Batmaz remains in prison. Batmaz was one of several nonmilitary figures caught in Akıncı, an airbase that FETÖ used as a launch pad for airstrikes in Ankara during the coup attempt. He was also a co-conspirator of the putsch bid along with Adil Öksüz, a fugitive FETÖ member, on behalf of Fetullah Gülen, the U.S.-based leader of the terrorist group.
FETÖ, which is blamed for the July 15, 2016 coup attempt that killed 251 people and wounded hundreds of others, is accused of employing its infiltrators from the air, land, naval and gendarmerie forces of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) to overthrow the government. The attempt failed due to a strong public resistance against putschists and tens of thousands of people were detained or arrested in its aftermath.