Information on Recent Investigations&Prosecutions in Turkey after FETO Terrorist Coup Attempt
TURKISH MINISTRY OF JUSTICE: INFO ON RECENT INVESTIGATIONS & PROSECUTIONS IN TURKEY AFTER FETÖ
TERRORIST COUP ATTEMPT
1. General information
The Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organization (“FETÖ”) is a terrorist organization founded by Fethullah Gülen and aims to overthrow the Government of the Republic of Turkey or prevent it from performing its duties partially or completely by using force, violence or other illegal methods, to exert pressure on, undermine or direct the state authority, to create an alternative authority, and thus to seize the state authority.
In accordance with its aims, FETÖ is carrying out its activities as cell-type structures in various public institutions, particularly within the judicial institutions, the Turkish Armed Forces and the Police. The public officials who are members of the organization use their positions and authorities, equipments and the personnel of the institution they work in line with the aims of the organization.
FETÖ has so far carried out a great number of illegal acts appearing to be legal. In this regard, the acts of the organization include wiretapping the communications of the politicians from the ruling and opposition parties, in particular the President, the Prime Minister, the members of the Government, businessmen and high-ranking bureaucrats and using them in line with the aims of the organization; ensuring the employment of the members of the organization in the public institutions by manipulating the entry exams held by such institutions, as well as ensuring the delivery of orders of release in respect of the detained members of the organization by other unauthorized judges who are members of the organization.
On 15 July 2016 FETÖ carried out a terrorist attempt under the leadership of its military members within the armed bureaucracy in order to overthrow the democratically-elected government of the Republic of Turkey. This foiled terrorist action is the most important act revealing the danger posed by FETÖ.
The members of FETÖ bombed the Turkish Grand National Assembly, the Office of the Presidency, and the public institutions using the helicopters, planes and tanks which they seized by betraying their commanders. They also opened fire on the citizens who took to the streets in order to protest against the coup attempt.
The police, the public prosecutors, and other elements of the armed forces immediately took the necessary measures to foil the attempt of the members of the terrorist organization to stage a coup outside the chain of command of the Turkish Armed Forces.
Above all, it was the Turkish nation who thwarted the plot. It displayed a historic solidarity as it took to the streets and remained defiant. It stood bravely in front of the tanks and stood by the democratic order. Turkish people are still continuing to stand guard of democracy in the streets and squares of all the cities, particularly Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.
The terrorists tried to broadcast their message by taking over studios of the state television (TRT) and raiding private media outlets. Yet the plotters’ attempt to control the media did not last long. It must be noted that the Turkish media also played a key role in defeating the coup attempt. Moreover, the terrorists attacked the satellite control unit to block broadcasting of media outlets.
Throughout the process, all political parties, the Members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly and the people stood firmly by democracy, democratic politics, democratic institutions and the Constitution. A Joint Declaration in defence of democracy was issued during the extraordinary meeting of the General Assembly on 16 July.
During the operations held within the scope of the investigations initiated following the terrorist attempt to stage a coup, more than 10,000 members of FETÖ have been taken into custody so far. The operations still continue. Some members of the organization whose statements had been taken within the scope of the investigations confessed that the terrorist attempt in question had been carried out by FETÖ.
Unfortunately, more than 246 of our citizens and security officers, including those very close to the President were martyred and more than 2,500 were wounded as a result of the terrorist action.
The President, the Prime Minister, the Government, the Members of the Turkish Grand National Assembly and the Turkish people all together defeated this coup attempt and stood by democracy and the rule of law.
Although the coup attempt in question was led by the members of FETÖ within the armed forces, there is strong suspicion that other members of the organization within the state bureaucracy supported the attempt in one way or the other. Furthermore, there still is a possibility of a new coup attempt.
Therefore, a state of emergency was declared across the country by the decree of the Council of Ministers in accordance with Article 120 of the Constitution upon the recommendation of the National Security Council to promptly defeat the terrorist organization with all its elements and to take the necessary steps in the most effective and expeditious manner for the purpose of eliminating this serious threat to democracy, the rule of law and rights and freedoms of our people. This state of emergency came into effect on 21 July 2016 at 1 a.m. and will last for 90 days. It was approved by the Turkish Grand National Assembly during the extraordinary meeting held on 21 July 2016. The aim of that declaration is not to restrict the freedoms but to enable the Government to act expeditiously.
Article 15 of the European Convention on Human Rights permits the Contracting Parties, to take measures derogating from their obligations under the Convention, in extraordinary circumstances. In this context, Turkey resorted to the right of derogation from the obligations in the Convention. As clearly stated in the Convention, a derogation is not a suspension of rights. It may bring certain limitations to the exercise of certain rights under required conditions.
2. Suspension of the judges and prosecutors from office and investigations conducted
FETÖ has continued to organise itself especially within the judicial institutions for decades. By way of producing false evidence through the investigations such as Ergenekon initiated in 2007 and Balyoz and military espionage initiated thereafter, it started dismissal operations against individuals that are not members of the organisation within the armed forces. It was established by the judgments of the Court of Cassation that false evidence had been produced in those investigations. The power that FETÖ acquired in the judiciary due to the said operations reached its peak with re-structuring of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors in 2010. FETÖ infiltrated the Council and appointed members of the organisation to critical positions in the judiciary.
On 7 February 2012 judges and prosecutors that are members of FETÖ unlawfully issued an arrest warrant on the Undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organisation taking advantage of a scheduled surgery that the President was about to undergo. The judges and prosecutors initiating the investigations against the Government on 17-25 December 2013 are also members of this organisation.
On the other hand, the National Security Council with its decision dated 30 October 2014 recommended to the Government that FETÖ was an organisation to be fought against. The Council, on 29 April 2016 decided that FETÖ is a terrorist organisation.
Furthermore, it was also pointed out in the indictments prepared as a result of various investigations conducted throughout the country that FETÖ is a terrorist organisation.
For the reasons above, the relevant authorities had been carrying out investigations in order to identify the members of FETÖ before the failed coup attempt. As a consequence of the terrorist act committed with the purpose of staging a coup on 15 July 2016, suspension and disciplinary procedures were initiated with the purpose of removing the members of FETÖ terrorist organisation that infiltrated into the state bureaucracy, mainly the judicial institutions, through structured cells.
In this respect, on 16 July 2016 investigations have been initiated and arrest warrants issued for the members of FETÖ in the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, the Constitutional Court and the other high courts by the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Ankara, and for its members serving as judges and prosecutors in court-houses, by the relevant Chief Public Prosecutor’s Offices on charges of being an accomplice in the attempt of overthrowing the government and the legislative organ, attempting to abolish the Constitution, fomenting an armed insurrection and establishing an armed organisation.
Members of the High Council of the Judges and Prosecutors
On 16 July 2016 the Plenary Assembly of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors terminated the memberships of 5 members affiliated with the FETÖ in the extraordinary session by virtue of the report prepared by the assigned investigator.
Pursuant to Law no. 2802 with respect to the membership requirements prescribed by Article 18 § 1 (a) of the Law no. 6087 on the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, the decision for the termination of membership was rendered on the ground that the requirements to be elected as a member of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutor were no longer met. (This provision includes the condition of “not being under investigation for a criminal offence to be punished with more than 3 month imprisonment” prescribed in order to be a judge or a prosecutor under Article 8 (h) of the Law no. 2802. In this decision, it was concluded that the continuation of those members’ memberships would impair the respectability, impartiality and credibility of the judiciary.)
Judges and Prosecutors
On 16 July 2016, in its extraordinary session, the 3rd Chamber of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors granted authorization to launch an investigation on a number of judges and prosecutors for being accomplice to the attempt of overthrowing the government and the legislative organ, attempting to abolish the Constitution, fomenting an armed insurrection and establishing an armed organisation.
On the same day, investigations were initiated and arrest warrants, custody orders and search warrants were issued for members of the above-mentioned terrorist organisation among judges and prosecutors countrywide.
After examining the permission to initiate investigations, the Inspection Board of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors that took action in view of the gravity of the coup attempt requested that 2735 judges and prosecutors, for whom authorization to initiate investigations was granted, be suspended from office for three months on the grounds that there exists strong criminal suspicion that they involved in the alleged offences and the security of the investigation and that influence and respectability of the judiciary power must be protected.
The 2nd Chamber of the High Council of the Judges and Prosecutors decided the 2735 judges and prosecutors in question be suspended from office for 3 months.
The investigations initiated in respect of the suspects are still being carried out by both the Inspection Board of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors and the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Offices of the provinces.
1352 judges and prosecutors have been detained so far. 312 judges and prosecutors have been released on the condition of judicial control. 366 judges and prosecutors are currently under custody.
Members of the Constitutional Court and the Other High Courts
Within the scope of the investigation of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office of Ankara, investigations have been initiated and arrest warrants and orders of custody have been issued for 2 members of the Constitutional Court, 140 members of the Court of Cassation and 48 members of the Supreme Administrative Court for being an accomplice in the attempt of overthrowing the government and the legislative organ, attempting to abolish the Constitution, fomenting an armed insurrection and establishing an armed organisation. 2 members of the Constitutional Court, 4 members of the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors and a total of 106 members of the Supreme Administrative Court and the Court of Cassation have been detained so far.
In the event that suspects are caught in the act of committing a crime necessitating severe punishment, the investigations in respect of the members of the high courts must be conducted directly pursuant to provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Article 16 § 1 of the Law on the Establishment and Rules of Procedure of the Constitutional Court; Article 46 § 1 of the Law on the Court of Cassation and Article 46 § 1 of the Law on the Court of Cassation on the basis of Article 82 § 1 of the Law on the Supreme Administrative Court).
As the suspects have been caught in the act of committing a crime requiring severe punishment in the jurisdiction of assize courts, the investigations in respect of them are directly conducted under the above mentioned provisions.
The rule of law, democracy and human rights are founding fundamental principles of the Republic of Turkey. Therefore, proceedings are carried out by independent and impartial courts in line with the principle of rule of law and Turkey`s international commitments. In this respect, the suspects have the right to legal assistance and the right to lodge an objection against the measures of custody and detention taken in respect of them. Furthermore, in the course of their questioning, the suspects are reminded that they may request concrete evidence to be collected, and given the opportunity to invalidate the existing grounds of suspicions against them and put forward the facts in their favour.
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