In trials on the crimes of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) yesterday, 93 people were sentenced to prison terms ranging from two years to 12 years.
FETÖ is accused of carrying out the July 15, 2016 coup attempt through its infiltrators in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), where 251 people were killed and nearly 2,200 others injured when soldiers associated with the terrorist group tried to seize power. Turkey stepped up a crackdown against the terrorist group after the coup attempt. FETÖ was already facing a barrage of trials before the 2016 coup bid since they tried to topple the government in late 2013 through its infiltrators in the judiciary and law enforcement.
In the northern city of Düzce, the Second High Criminal Court handed down prison terms between two years and two months to 12 years and six months to 48 defendants. Seventy-seven people were on trial for serving as members of the FETÖ network in the city. FETÖ is known for its elaborate network of members with a senior "imam" or "brother," a top FETÖ figure running every "region" in Turkey. Tens of thousands of people linked to the group were detained or arrested following the 2016 coup attempt and operations still continue to capture the fugitive FETÖ suspects.
The Düzce court ordered the sentencing for 48 defendants for membership of a terrorist group and ruled for the acquittal of four others. The court also ruled for a separate trial for 25 trials, mostly fugitives. Defendants included "provincial brother" for Düzce. Prosecutors say defendants were in charge of running FETÖ's Düzce network and held regular meetings to rally followers to donate money to the group.
In the central city of Konya, the Eighth High Criminal Court handed down prison terms between one year and 10 months and 12 years and six months to 43 out of 45 defendants in another FETÖ trial. One defendant was acquitted and a separate trial for another defendant will be held.
Defendants were suspects who were caught on April 13, 2018 in operations against "gaybubet" houses. Gaybubet means "absence" in FETÖ jargon and they are used by the terrorist group to hide its followers who are being sought for crimes since 2013. Former members of the terrorist group who collaborated with authorities to avoid jail, say that the group mobilized to collect money to cover the expenses of fugitive members or those dismissed from their public duties for their links to FETÖ and they stayed in hideouts provided by the terrorist group. FETÖ members pay a fraction of the rent and bills for each house.
FETÖ is accused of planting its members everywhere, from the police to the judiciary, the army and bureaucracy for years. Disguising their ties to the group, followers managed to rise to the top ranks. They became generals in the army and senior police chiefs. Through "imams," FETÖ monitored the infiltrators and gave them orders. Imams are often unassuming figures, such as a shopkeeper in a small town or a teacher, but they held immense power within the group, commanding police chiefs, generals and high-ranking bureaucrats.
One such "imam" was Osman Hilmi Özdil, a fugitive FETÖ member accused of controlling FETÖ's infiltrators in law enforcement. A court in the capital Ankara handed down a prison term of 12 years for Özdil's brother Yasin Özdil yesterday. Özdil was extradited from Moldova where he was detained in September 2018 on charges of FETÖ membership. Abdullah Oğuz, another FETÖ "imam" for the group's infiltrators in the Turkish National Police, was sentenced to nine years and four months in prison by a court in Ankara.
In another trial in the capital Ankara, İdris Karagöz, a former staff of the National Intelligence Directorate (MİT), was sentenced to eight years and one month in prison for FETÖ membership while he was acquitted of charges of obtaining confidential information for espionage, a charge related to his work in MİT. Karagöz had been a MİT member for 23 years before he was arrested following the 2016 coup attempt.