İstanbul’s former governor Mutlu sentenced to 3 years in prison over Gülen links

Hüseyin Avni Mutlu (R), Hüseyin Çapkın.

Turkish court on Friday sentenced former İstanbul governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu to 3  years in prison and former police chief Hüseyin Çapkın to 2 years in jail over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. The 30th High Criminal Court in İstanbul also ordered for Mutlu’s release after taking the amount of time he has already spent in jail into consideration but imposed a travel ban on both men.

Mutlu, who was detained after a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016, faced charges of “being a member of armed terror organisation” and of “attempting to overthrow Turkey’s government.”

A public prosecutor demanded up to 15 years in jail on Thursday for Mutlu and Çapkın on charges of having links to the Gülen movement. Çapkın was accused of “willfully helping the organization, despite not being involved in the organization’s hierarchical structure.”

Mutlu was arrested on Aug. 5, 2016 along with nine other suspects, shortly after Turkey’s July 2016 military coup attempt. Mutlu, who served four years as İstanbul governor until 2014, was reassigned to Ankara to become an Interior Ministry civil servant but was suspended from his position on July 17, 2016. He has denied having any ties to the Gülen movement and rejects all charges.

“Everything about me has been analyzed. It has been seen that I am transparent. I have never had a relationship with this movement. For my whole life I have adhered to the constitution and the law. There is no tangible evidence in the indictment in relation to FETÖ,” Mutlu said at the second hearing of the trial, which took place on Aug. 24, 2016 at İstanbul’s 30th High Criminal Court.

Çapkın, who was arrested on Sept. 3, 2016, has also denied all charges and said in his testimony that “I’m not a part of such an organization. I’ve never received help from such an organization during my career. I’ve never sent my children to any schools belonging to this group.”

Meanwhile, a court in eastern province of Ağrı has sentenced 10 military officers, including a general, to life in prison on Friday for their alleged involvement in the controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016. A brigadier general and 6 other military officers were sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment, while another 4 military officers were given life imprisonment for their alleged involvement into the coup attempt. All of the defendants were military officers stationed in Ağrı province.

The court also sentenced 4 more defendants to 12 years and 6 months in prison in the same case. The defendants included Mehmet Ozan, a brigadier general of the First Armored Brigade deployed in the Doğubeyazıt district on the Turkish-Iranian border. All the accused military officers have denied the allegations throughout the hearings and claimed they were “following the orders of their superiors.”

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 Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

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. Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, 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.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 2, 2018. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “Even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

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