September 27, 2015

Tahşiye indictment: "We liked the film very much"

Arzu Yıldız

The indictment for the "Tahşiye" investigation that has long been under way against Hidayet Karaca, the head of Samanyolu Broadcasting Group, and several police officers has been finally drafted.

I don't know if you have read the "indictment" prepared, but it contains a lot of charges and no evidence.

Let me take it one by one:

First of all, the prosecutor accuses the defendants of being members of the so-called pro-Fethullah terrorist organization (FETÖ) and the Parallel State Structure (PDY). He then moves on to confess that there is no court decision upheld by the Supreme Court of Appeals to justify these definitions.

However, he argues that his designating the FETÖ and the PDY as terrorist organizations is justified by the fact that these terms are frequently used in official correspondence. In this way, the prosecutor acknowledges the need for the Supreme Court of Appeals' approval for any terrorist designation, but tries to bypass it by referring to the official correspondence. As a matter of fact, he implies that the use of these terrorist designations in the official correspondence is unlawful.

On the other hand, the defendants are still accused of being members of an armed/terrorist organization. But no mention is made about the arms used or armed attacks conducted by these so-called terrorist organizations.

The indictment lists the activities of the Gülen organization. It is claimed that schools and prep schools at home and around the world are systematically established to abuse religious sentiments. But there is no single piece of evidence or data about how they abuse religious sentiments. Thus, in the final analysis, these accusations are not nothing but a version of what pro-government columnists or Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials have been parroting for some time.

Moreover, the prosecutor feels sufficiently assured to refer to the investigation into the graft and bribery scandals that went public on Dec. 17, 2013, the investigation into the Syria-bound trucks loaded with ammunition, or the investigation into the Iran-backed Tawhid-Salam terrorist organization, as a "coup d'état."

What evidence does the prosecutor provide for this claim? He says that there were dialogues suggesting that these investigations would be launched in a soap opera aired on Samanyolu TV channel and so on. At this point, the indictment that has started as a tragedy of law turns into a comedy.

Now, let us remember what evidence was provided in connection with the Dec. 17 investigation: two reports by customs experts, one report by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK), the National Intelligence Organization's (MİT) report on Reza Zarrab, a report by the Anti-smuggling and Organized Crimes Bureau, a report by the Finance Ministry's Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK), the safes seized in house searches, money stashed in laundry, chocolate and shoe boxes, watches, and so on. What else happened? Arrest warrants were given about certain suspects that were even undersigned by prosecutor Ekrem Aydıner -- who was responsible for eventually dropping the Dec. 17 investigation -- the prosecutor gave comments that the challenges against the arrest warrants should be rejected, and suspects were imprisoned. If the Dec. 17 investigation was a coup d'état, then prosecutor Aydıner is one of the perpetrators of that coup, isn't he?

In connection with the Dec. 17 investigation, there is a lot of evidence, such as the closure of the Etiler Police Academy, the use of bribery and pressure to achieve the amendments to the legislation regarding the mining and protected areas, the related surveillance data, the unlawful of entry of Yasin al-Qadi -- a Saudi Arabian businessman who is on the US Treasury Department's “specially designated global terrorist” list -- into Turkey, his meeting with top state officials, the drafting of fake minutes on the traffic accident he was involved in, etc.

The prosecutor asks us not to believe in them, but in a soap opera script. Or he just ignores all this evidence and defines a soap opera script as a coup d'état.

There is more.

Is there any court decision -- upheld by the Court of Cassation -- which defines the Dec. 17 investigation as a coup d'état? No. Has any trial been brought concerning it? No. The prosecutor acts as if he himself has made the trial and passed the judgment, and he claims that the indictment was the act of an (illegal) organization.

Furthermore, he argues that the Dec. 17 investigation sought to create the impression that the government is corrupt. How unfortunate! Were all the watches, boxes, safes, bank records, the dozens of expert reports, the closure of the Etiler Police School, the villas in Urla just for creating the perception of corruption. This is not claimed even by the suspects of the Dec. 17 investigation. Did they say "We haven't engaged in a graft? No. They just said, "Those who caught us were members of the [Gülen] community and they weren't well-meaning and they did this to overthrow us." They could make no other claim. The prosecutor even failed to refer to the year of the Dec. 17 investigation -- which he defines as a coup d'état -- correctly. For him, the investigation occurred in 2014. Let us help the prosecutor: It was conducted in 2013.

As for the interception of the Syria-bound trucks:

According to the indictment, those trucks belonged to the MİT. In the indictment, the prosecutor says that the trucks were "carrying relief materials to our Turkmen sisters and brothers." I think the prosecutor is not aware of certain things: "Our Turkmen sisters and brothers" announced at that time that they hadn't received any relief material from Turkey. Moreover, did they have any tanks for which to use that ammunition? As for the investigation into the prosecutors who intercepted the trucks, the case file contains not a single official document certifying that the trucks were carrying humanitarian materials to Turkmens. If the trucks belonged to the MİT, why wasn't it involved in that investigation? Moreover, the drivers of those trucks were civilians. The people in the cars accompanying the trucks claimed to be members of the MİT. Since Jan. 1-19, 2014 when the interception occurred, the MİT has made no official statement about its ownership of the trucks. The cars accompanying the trucks that were intercepted on Jan. 1 belonged not to the MİT, but to A.D., who was previously convicted of being a member of al-Qaeda. In appearance, neither the trucks nor the accompanying cars belonged to the MİT. Only those in the cars were members of the MİT. Is the MİT authorized to get involved in arms shipments? Doesn't the prosecutor know this?

The prosecutor argues that the trucks were intercepted upon Fethullah Gülen's instruction and the order was communicated via a script of a soap opera aired on Samanyolu TV. As evidence, he quotes part of the script and refers to the website where Gülen's religious sermons are posted. He accuses those who were involved in the investigation of espionage.

These spies are very stupid or their communication network is very weak. Just imagine that they translate instructions into a script of a soap opera aired for everyone to see, or they receive those instructions from a public website before getting involved in espionage. On the other hand, the questions about which document or what information is given to which countries as part of this act of espionage go unanswered... This is ultra-nonsensical! What's more, the prosecutor proceeds to pass the final judgment of the trial which is yet to be heard by the Supreme Court of Appeals. He did it with certainty, and without using any words that would address possibility or allegation.

Our story does not end here. The prosecutor implicitly accuses the judges who issued the decision to release the defendants -- as well as the prosecutors who were involved in the investigation into the Syria-bound trucks and into the Dec. 17 investigation -- of being members of a terrorist organization despite the fact that the investigations launched by the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) are still underway. He argues that the release was given on the instruction from Gülen. Here he passes judgments as noted above.

Now, the prosecutor may want us to believe that the instructions were communicated via a soap opera script. But I must ask: How can you prove it? How can you prove that these people really watched this soap opera? How can you prove that they followed Gülen's sermons? Suppose they really did follow them. How can you turn this claim into concrete evidence? Can it be done? No.
The text which is marketed as an indictment -- but which is full of quotes from a script, fancies, imaginations -- contains no evidence, yet does tell us one thing: The decision to release the defendants, given by judges Mustafa Başer and Metin Özçelik who were later arrested in connection with that decision, was perfectly correct.

When the indictment is translated into a foreign language and shared with the international community, the Turkish judiciary will find itself in an inexplicable situation. This indictment will pave the way for the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to hold that the human rights of the defendants were breached by Turkey. It will also show that the defendants were utterly innocent.

This indictment reminds me of former President Abdullah Gül's famous Twitter post: "We liked the film very much. I congratulate the cast. Their acting was fantastic."

Published on Sunday's Zaman, 27 September 2015, Sunday