Turkish police admit nonexistence of ‘secret witness’ whose statements led to many imprisonments

The Diyarbakır Police Department has revealed that an anonymous witness codenamed “Venüs” whose testimony led to the detention and imprisonment of scores of people doesn’t actually exist, the Mezopotamya news agency reported on Wednesday.

The revelation came amid a terrorism-related investigation overseen by a Diyarbakır high criminal court that ordered the detention and arrest of dozens of people, most of whom were between the ages 50 and 80.

The court demanded that secret witness Venus be heard upon an application by Gülşen Özbek, a lawyer for one of the defendants in the case.

In its confidential written response, the Diyarbakır police admitted that there are no archive records or documents related to the witness in question.

Upon testimony by Venüs many individuals, including several elderly people, were charged with deliberately aiding terrorist organizations.

“These people were subjected to prosecution through fabricated evidence and a witness who doesn’t exist,” Özbek said, adding that the police officers involved should be suspended and investigated for misleading the court.

Özbek also pointed out that secret witnesses have become a widespread practice used in charges of organized crime and terrorism.

“Secret witnesses are made up by the police. The relevant laws should be immediately repealed,” Özbek claimed.

Recently, in the case of American pastor Andrew Brunson, jailed in Turkey’s post-coup security sweep, which had garnered the attention of the highest levels of the US administration and became a sore point in the two countries’ relations, a secret witnesses who previously accused the cleric of having ties to people affiliated with the faith-based civic Gülen movement changed his testimony at the final hearing, saying what he had said earlier was only a rumor. Ironically, another witness who had provided evidence against the pastor also retracted his testimony and said he had never witnessed anything implying relations between Brunson and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). 

A similar case was reported by the Turkish media in 2017 in which a secret witness codenamed “Aslan” said during a trial in Turkey’s Denizli province that he did not know the names of the defendants he previously accused of alleged links to the faith-based civic Gülen movement. As the judge read the names of the 145 defendants one by one, the secret witness said he did not know any of them. (SCF with turkishminute.com, TR724.com)

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