A secret witness codenamed ‘Aslan’, said during a trial in Turkey’s Denizli province, he did not know the names of the defendants that he previously accused of collecting money to finance the activities of the Gülen movement. As the judge read the names of 145 defendants one by one, the secret witness said he did not know any of them, according to a report by TR7/24 online news outlet on Monday.
The report said “This is how the Gülen movement trials proceed in Turkey: The court has read the names of 145 defendants individually, the secret witness did not recognize any of them.”
After a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 July 15, hundreds of people have been detained as a result of operations targeting the alleged members of the Gülen movement in Denizli province as part of Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the movement.
The trial of 145 people, who were arrested as part of the government witch hunt, accused of being so-called finance pillar of the Gülen movement was tried at the Denizli 2nd High Criminal Court. During the third hearing of the case of businessmen at the court, a secret witness, codenamed ‘Aslan’, who testified through SEGBİS, said he did not know the names of the defendants on trial, they had collected money for the movement and that they were members of the movement. On the top of that, the president of the court read the names of 145 defendants one by one. However, the secret witness said he did not know any of them.
It was reported that during the court hearing the secret witnesses codenamed ‘Aslan’ and ‘Battal’ testified. Aslan said that he did not recognize any of the defendants, while Battal said he recognized businessman Mustafa Can Pekdemir and Türker İşler. The secret witness called ‘Aslan’ who participated in the meeting via SEGBİS, first “I do not know the names of the defendants one by one. However, I know that they were collecting money, belonging to the movement, being members. If you ask the names, I will tell you,” he told to the panel of judges.
Hereupon, the president of the court read the name of each of the 145 defendants one by one. But the secret witness said he did not know any of them. The President of the Court asked, “You gave some names in your statement at the prosecutor’s office, is this correct?” The secret witness replied in “true.”
For the other witness codenamed ‘Battal’, who testified at the trial, 145 defendants names were also read at the hearing. Saying that he knew only Mustafa Can Pekdemir and Türker İşler, the secret witness Battal said “Mustafa Can Pekdemir, I have known him long ago. I did not see him at the terror organization meetings. Türker İşler, I know that he is affiliated to the Gülen movement, he attended the meetings and he hosted the programs. In the meetings I saw him,” he said.
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 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 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.