Turkey arrests coup suspect officer’s lawyer in MİT trucks case

Coup suspect Gökhan Güçlü

Deniz Akbulut, the lawyer for noncommissioned officer Gökhan Güçlü, one of the suspects on trial for an assassination attempt against Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the night of a controversial coup on July 15, 2016, was detained as he was leaving the Muğla Courthouse after a hearing on Wednesday and arrested by a court as part of an investigation into halted intelligence agency trucks in 2014.

According to the Haber Türk daily, Akbulut was accused of being a “courier” between gendarmes who stopped Syria-bound National Intelligence Organization (MİT) trucks near Adana in 2014 and Hamza Ali Ece, an alleged member of the Gülen movement. Akbulut was arrested by a court on Wednesday.

According to data compiled by The Arrested Lawyers’ Initiative, 522 lawyers have been arrested and 1,315 lawyers have been under Turkish government’s prosecution after the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The Turkish government has arrested a total of 2,431 judges and prosecutors since the coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and dismissed 4,424 others from their jobs, a Constitutional Court general assembly ruling revealed on July 26.

A comprehensive report by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) titled “Turkey’s descent into arbitrariness: The end of rule of law” provides detailed information on how the rule of law has lost meaning in Turkish context, confirming the effective collapse of all domestic judicial and administrative remedies available for Turkish citizens who lodge complaints on rights violations.

Akbulut’s client Güçlü was a target of the pro-government media after he was thrown out of a courtroom in July for wearing a T-shirt bearing the word “hero.” Several people across Turkey have been detained, some of them arrested, for wearing hero T-shirts.

In January 2014 a number of trucks that were found to belong to MİT were stopped by gendarmes in two separate incidents in the southern provinces of Hatay and Adana, after prosecutors received tipoffs that they were carrying arms to radical Islamist rebel organizations in Syria.

Although the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government claimed that the trucks were transporting humanitarian aid to the Turkmen community in Syria, opposition voices questioned why, if the operation was within the law, the government intervened to prevent the trucks from being searched.

Four former prosecutors and a former gendarmerie officer were jailed when a court ordered their arrest due to their role in the search of the trucks after government figures, including President Erdoğan, accused them of “treason and espionage.”

A case was filed against those involved in the investigation and an indictment, which was accepted by the Tarsus High Criminal Court in July 2015, seeks life sentences for Adana Chief Public Prosecutor Süleyman Bağrıyanık, former Adana Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor Ahmet Karaca and Adana prosecutors Aziz Takçı and Özcan Şişman, as well as Gendarmerie Commander Col. Özkan Çokay, who were all involved in the investigation.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President 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. Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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