A Turkish court in Gaziantep province on Thursday handed down prison sentences ranging between two years, one month and 15 years to nine businessmen and executives in a trial involving Naksan Holding, part of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement.
The final hearing at the Gaziantep 9th High Criminal Court was attended by jailed businessmen Cahit Nakıboğlu (70), his son Taner Nakıboğlu and Cihan Dağcı, Murat Zar and their lawyers. In addition to the defendants, Cahit Nakıboğlu’s spouse Ferhan Nakıboğlu and his son Emre Nakıboğlu, who are awaiting trial, also were in attendance. All the defendants pleaded not guilty and requested their acquittal.
The court sentenced Cahit Nakıboğlu, Zar and Dağcı to eight years, nine months for alleged membership in a terrorist organization. The court ruled for the continuation of the imprisonment of Zar and Dağcı and decided to release Cahit Nakıboğlu on judicial probation due to time already served and the state of his health.
Charging Taner Nakıboğlu with “establishing and managing a terrorist organization,” the court sentenced him to 15 years in prison and ordered the continuation of his incarceration while his case is appealed.
The court also sentenced Ferhan Nakıboğlu to two years, one month in prison and Emre Nakıboğlu to 11 years, three months. The court ordered the arrest of Emre Nakıboğlu, who had been free on bail.
Defendants Emre Özkaya and Mesut Çeven were sentenced by the court to six years, three months and Arif Çiftçi to three years, nine months in prison.
The court also ruled to seize the defendants’s shares in 42 companies under Naksan Holding.
Cahit Nakıboğlu, a 70-year-old businessman who spent nearly one-and-a-half years behind bars as part of the government’s post-coup crackdown on the Gülen movement, was re-arrested only a day after he was released into house arrest on January 6, 2018. The court decision came hours after pro-government journalist Cem Küçük criticized the initial court decision to conditionally release him.
Nakıboğlu was first arrested on July 14, 2016, over his alleged ties to the Gülen movement. A Gaziantep court put him under house arrest due to medical problems during a hearing on Jan 4, 2018.
“Oh, Nakıboğlu was released as well. Good (!) decision. Continue like that,” Küçük tweeted the same day. Nakıboğlu was jailed again upon an objection by the prosecutor to his release.
Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.
“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.
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 about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. 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.