Judges Özçelik and Başer sentenced with 10 years of prison over alleged Gülen links

Judges Metin Özçelik (L) and Mustafa Başer.

Dismissed and arrested judges Metin Özçelik and Mustafa Başer were sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment by 16th Penal Chamber of the Court of Cassation on Monday over their alleged membership to a “terror organization” and the claim of “abusing their authority.”

Judges Özçelik and Başer have been known with their decision to release a group of police officers who took part in critical graft and terror operations together with now-closed Samanyolu Broadcating Group’s General Manager and journalist Hidayet Karaca on April 25, 2015.

With unprecedent graft operations organized by prosecutors and a group of police officers on Dec. 17 and Dec. 25, 2013, the corruptions and bribery scandal of the inner circle of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had been exposed. It was also exposed that Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, who had paid Cabinet-level officials and public bank’s officers bribes to facilitate illegal transactions benefiting Iran under US sanctions.

After Erdoğan cast the case as a coup attempt to overthrow his government orchestrated by his political enemies, several prosecutors were removed from the case, police were reassigned and the investigation against Zarrab was dropped. Eventually, those police officers and jurists who had role in graft operations have been arrested and put in jail.

On Monday, by abusing their mandate the panel of judges chaired by Muhsin Şentürk has not implemented any reductions in the sentences giving to two judges in contrary to the requirements of the Turkish Penal Code.

Judges Özçelik and Başer were first dismissed from their duty on April 27, 2015 after their decision to release a group of police officers and journalist Karaca. They were later arrested by an İstanbul court on May 30, 2015. Judges Özçelik and Başer were accused of being alleged members of Gülen movement.

Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has announced on April 2 that 47,155 people have been jailed and 113,260 people have been detained over alleged links with Gülen movement since coup attempt on July 15, 2016.  According to Minister Soylu, 2,575 judges and prosecutors have also been jailed during post-coup witch hunt against alleged members of Gülen movement. However, the independent sources say, currently, 3,089 judges and prosecutors are kept behind the bars in Turkey.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement despite the lack of any evidence to that effect.

Although the Gülen movement strongly denies having any role in the putsch, the government accuses it of having masterminded the foiled coup. Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, called for an international investigation into the coup attempt, 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.

April 24, 2017

Take a second to support SCF on Patreon!