Prominent members of Turkey’s major business family sentenced long prison terms over Gülen links

Memduh Boydak

A Turkish court in central Kayseri province on Thursday sentenced prominent members of the Boydak family, the owners of Boydak Holding, to lengthy prison terms and ruled in favor of the takeover of the shares of Boydak Holding executives in the company and its subsidiaries.

Former executives of Boydak Holding — Memduh Boydak, Hacı Boydak, Şükrü Boydak and Mustafa Boydak — were sentenced by the Kayseri 2nd High Criminal Court to jail terms ranging from seven-and-a-half years to 18 years.

In August 2016, the Turkish government had appointed trustees to the holding for alleged ties to the Gülen movement.

During the 10th hearing of the trial on Thursday, the court issued its final verdicts for the defendants, some of whom have been in pre-trial detention for more than 800 days.

Boydak Holding executive Memduh Boydak was given a jail sentence of 18 years on charges of leading a terrorist organization. Hacı Boydak received 11 years, 10 months and Şükrü Boydak 10 years, both on charges of membership in a terrorist organization. These three defendants were already in pre-trial detention.

Other defendants who had been released on their own recognizance, Mustafa Boydak, Erol Boydak, Bekir Boydak, İlyas Boydak and Murat Bozdağ, were given seven years, six months in prison each on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.

Halit Bayhan, a former employee of Boydak Holding, was acquitted of all charges.

The Boydaks’ trial began on Nov. 1, 2016 with 68 defendants. The dossiers of the some of the defendants were separated out during the course of the trial.

When asked by the court to give their final remarks before the issuance of the final verdict, Memduh Boydak said on Thursday: “We cannot even be the ‘T’ of terrorism. I am asking for my acquittal.”

Another defendant, Hacı Boydak, who suffered from health problems while in jail, said he was not asking for his release for reasons of health but because he was innocent.

The court also ruled for confiscation of the defendants’ shares in Boydak Holding.

Former Boydak Chairman Hacı Boydak, CEO of the holding Memduh Boydak and two other board members, Erol Boydak and Murat Bozdağ, were detained in March 2016 on charges of supporting the so-called “parallel state,” a reference to the Gülen movement coined by the Turkish government.

Erol Boydak was released after interrogation by prosecutors, while Hacı Boydak and Memduh Boydak were subsequently arrested.

The government in August 2016 also seized Boydak Holding, which is among Turkey’s largest industrial groups.

According to the Boydak Holding website, the family-based consortium was established in 1957 and has interests in furniture, textiles, chemicals, marketing, logistics and energy. Its 42 companies employ more than 14,000 staff. The holding has an annual turnover of more than TL 6 billion ($2 billion).

The Turkish government has seized nearly 1,100 companies across Turkey with a total value of $12 billion in assets and transferred them to the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF). The companies were mostly targeted as part of the government crackdown on the Gülen movement.

According to a survey conducted by Brussels-based The Arrested Lawyers Initiative in June 2018, the Turkish government has transferred some TL 49,4 billion ($11 billion) in assets of 1,124 companies seized for alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement to a special fund under a crackdown that began following a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The survey said that as of June 4, 2018 the TMSF controls 1,124 seized companies and also the personal assets of 127 individuals. Among the companies are Boydak Holding, which has 34 subsidiaries including the Bellona and İstikbal furniture makers and retailers, with 1,240 retail stores. Boydak employs 14,000 people and indirectly creates 110,000 jobs, the survey said.

The other seized major Turkish companies cited in the survey include Koza, Dumankaya, Akfa, Orkide, Sesli and Naksan

Turkey has seized the companies under presidential decrees, and their owners had no judicial recourse. The proprietors are allegedly members of the Gülen movement. Trustees have been appointed to run the companies against their shareholders’ wishes.

The companies are active in all areas of business and trade including investment, mining, petrol distribution, automotive, auto-gas, energy, transportation, food, agriculture, home textiles, furniture, jewellery, pharmaceuticals, law and IT, said the survey.

The value of the assets seized does not include those of 127 individuals, 19 unions, 15 private universities, 49 hospitals, 145 foundations, 174 media outlets, 1,419 foundations and another 2,271 education companies, it said. The total value of all assets confiscated could total TL 100 billion, added the survey.

According to the survey, at the very beginning of a state of emergency (OHAL) declared on July 23, 2016 in the aftermath of the coup bid, 934 private schools, 109 dormitories, 35 hospitals, 15 private universities, 16 unions, 104 foundations and 1,125 associations were dissolved and all their assets including real estate, chattel goods, bank accounts, intellectual property and other financial assets were transferred to the public treasury. As of June 4, at least 4,100 profit-oriented or non-profit legal entities had been dissolved, and their assets were confiscated under decree-laws without any judicial procedure.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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