Forty-one defendants including former police chiefs were handed prison terms by a court in western Turkey's İzmir yesterday for plotting to imprison military officers on behalf of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
Ninety defendants have been on trial since 2016 for an elaborate scheme to start a sham trial against dozens of military officers. Charges against jailed military officers later turned out to be part of a larger plot to imprison critics of FETÖ whose military infiltrators now stand accused of carrying out the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
In 2010, the İzmir branch of the National Police Department launched an investigation based on an anonymous tipoff sent by email and detained 357 people, including high-ranking officers. Defendants were allegedly found in possession of confidential information about military facilities based on evidence that they were collecting the information with the purpose of giving it to foreign intelligence service agents according to the indictments. Officers have long objected to the case and claimed they were implicated with charges based on false evidence. They have claimed the evidence, mostly videos and documents found in their computers, was "planted." A court ruled for their acquittal six years after the case started and three years after FETÖ emerged as the culprit of a string of crimes, including sham trials to stifle opposition to the group or to achieve their goals to infiltrate everywhere, from law enforcement to the military.
The 2nd High Criminal Court in İzmir sentenced former police chief of the city Ali Bilkay to 11 years in yesterday's hearing. Taner Aydın, deputy chief of police intelligence in İzmir, was sentenced to 50 years, while Hasan Ali Okan, a high-ranking police intelligence officer who last served as police chief in the eastern city of Batman, was sentenced to 18 years in prison. The court ordered the acquittal of 34 defendants. Forty-one defendants were handed prison terms of between six and 51 years, while a separate trial will be held for fugitive defendants.
FETÖ is already accused of being behind the "Balyoz" (Sledgehammer), Ergenekon and Selam Tevhid cases in which hundreds of military officers, journalists, academics and other prominent figures were either accused of planning military coups or running criminal organizations. Many defendants were released pending trial after renewed legal processes found they were detained, arrested and convicted on trumped-up charges or falsified evidence.