Bedrettin Dalan, businessman and former mayor of Istanbul, returned to Turkey early yesterday after a Turkish court lifted his arrest warrant in the notorious Ergenekon case.
Dalan, 74, was accused of running a terrorist organization and attempting to overthrow the government on what his lawyers called "trumped-up charges." He was among scores of defendants in a complicated trial that started with the discovery of the "Action Plan for Fighting Reactionarism," allegedly prepared by an on-duty colonel that outlined means to overthrow the government. The case was merged with a larger trial of suspects in the Ergenekon case, which started in 2008 and netted more than 200 people including generals, journalists, academics and several dignitaries.
He flew from Germany to Istanbul where he was welcomed at the airport by his relatives. Dalan did not speak to reporters, who scrambled to interview him. The former mayor, also known for his charity work and being the founder of a private university, was wanted by Turkey since 2010, two years after he left the country due to the health of his wife. He had denied he was on the run and pledged to return but later changed his mind and sought the removal of his arrest warrant. A court had removed the warrant in February.
Dalan is among defendants at large in the Ergenekon case. The list includes Turhan Çömez, a former lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and retired Gen. Mustafa Bakıcı.
Ergenekon was believed to be a nationwide gang joined by people from all walks of life, from generals to businesspeople and academics, and hundreds spent time in pre-trial detention for years before their release, pending trial after a landmark ruling last year ordering their retrial. The Ergenekon and Sledgehammer (Balyoz) trials, which involved military officers accused of planning a coup, are viewed as an attempt by the Gülen Movement to stifle opposition to ubiquitous group evolved into a politically-motivated juggernaut from a simple religious congregation. The movement is accused of imprisoning its critics through fabricated evidence and blackmail. The trials and operations rounding up the suspects were largely carried out by prosecutors, judges and police officers, who reportedly infiltrated the judiciary and law enforcement on the orders of the movement.
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