The Update: The Lighthouse Whitewash, 12 April 2012

Deniz Feneri (Light House ) Corruption Case

Do you still have doubts about my assertion that there is no justice in Turkey?  That the entire judicial system has been either taken captive by AKP or by Sunni religious Orders? Well, than definitely do read this entry about the whitewashing and hashing-up of the Lighthouse Charity embezzlement scandal.

Mr Ömer Dinçer, Turkish Minister of Education, Former Prime Ministry Undersecretary said that Turkey should change its republic principle and secularism should be replaced by Islam in a speech in Siirt in 1995.

However this author doesn’t like unfinished business and would therefore add a few lines regarding the post-script of the so-called Education Reform. Education Minister Ömer Dincer had promised in several interviews prior to the enactment of the Bill that Kurdish language courses and lectures on the Alevite faith would also be permissible under the new law.  Afterwards, his first public interview revealed the truth:  Kurdish is considered a foreign language; therefore it would require a separate bill to be taught in primary and secondary education.

Electives in Alevite faith are still possible.  But, are there any preparations for it?  Has either the Directorate of Religious Affairs or the Ministry of Education contacted the Alevite NGOs and religious leaders to ask for names and a curriculum?  Of course not.  Finally, the Minister of Education announced on 10 April 2012 that it is hiring 10 thousand “divinity scholars” (imams) to teach the new Kuran and other religion electives. There, we now know the true objectives of the Education Reform. A piece of salted pork thrown in the way of the fundamentalist constituency before Mr Erdoğan’s 2014 presidential bid.

Let’s turn our attention to the Lighthouse Charity embezzlement scandal, which German courts called the scam of the century, advising the Turkish law enforcement agencies that the “real culprits” are inTurkey. What do you think happened to the scam of the century once it arrived in Turkey? Let’s read:

“An indictment prepared by prosecutors in a corruption case involving German-based Turkish charity Deniz Feneri has said there is no need for legal action regarding claims that the suspects were involved in organized crime.

Zahit Akman

The probe into Deniz Feneri’s fraudulent connections to Turkey began in 2008. The three prosecutors overseeing the probe recently completed a 526-page indictment on 20 suspects involved in the case, including former head of the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) Zahit Akman and Kanal 7 CEO Zekeriya Karaman.

The Deniz Feneri administration is accused of funneling money collected for charity from pious workers inGermanyinto various companies and businesses inTurkey. In September 2008, a German court convicted three Turkish men of funneling $26 million in charitable contributions raised by Deniz Feneri into companies run by conservative individuals in Turkey.

In the indictment, prosecutors Hakan Pektaş and Veli Dalgalı demand from 3 years 9 months to 14 years 6 months in jail for the suspects on charges of falsification of official documents and abuse of authority by a public official, while the suspects are cleared of charges of establishing a criminal organization and being a member of it.

The indictment says there is no need for judicial action against the other 25 suspects in the case.

Ankara Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor Harun Kodalak, who is responsible for coordinating the investigation, approved the indictment on Tuesday morning.

The indictment was then sent to theAnkara3rd High Criminal Court through the National Judiciary Network Project (UYAP), an electronic system that allows judicial processes to be handled online.

The trial of the suspects in the Deniz Feneri case will be held at the Ankara3rd High Criminal Court if the court decides to accept the indictment. The court has 15 days to accept the indictment.[1]

Let’s underline the key words here:  No organized crime, no embezzlement, no money laundering, not even fraud.  If the courts accepts the indictment (which I bet it will), the three suspects will not spend a day in prison. On the other hand, the three former prosecutors who were preparing the case for trial as a major felony (who were removed on ramped up charges of counterfeiting court documents) will be sent to trial and will probably be disbarred and potentially convicted to jail time.

It had to be this way, because Mr. Zahit Akman who had been prison was about the spill the beans—according to secularist press-implicating members of AKP. Whether these accusations are correct or not, imagine what the Lighthouse indictment says for the ordinary people of Turkey:  Religion is above the law.  Theft is ok if it is done for a religious cause. No member of the society may press charges against members of AKP, or the people and institutions protected by it.

Of course, the opposite is also true. If you cross AKP or the religious orders, you are screwed.  It is almost certain that you may never see the face of sun again. You want proof?  Sure, let’s move on to the infamous Sledgehammer trial. It has finally reached the stage for closing arguments and than the ruling:

“Hours later, Dogan, former commander of the elite First Army, marched out of his trial as the prosecutor began his final arguments, demanding 15-20 year jail terms for the 365 people, all but one military.

Light House Case

Some 250 of the defendants are already in jail pending a verdict.

“There are witnesses that have not been heard, experts have not been called to the court,” Dogan’s lawyer Celal Ulgen told Reuters. “The part of the trial which showed last longest is being finished off in a rush.

“We are of the view the proceedings have not been just.”

Erdogan, whose AK party embraces nationalists and centre-right elements as well as religious conservatives, denies accusations of a secret Islamist agenda. Critics and even some supporters accuse him however of authoritarian tendencies.

“Sledgehammer” dates to 2003, a year after Erdogan was first elected, stirring secularist fears of an Islamist takeover. It allegedly included plans to bomb historic mosques inIstanbuland trigger conflict with Greece. Defendants say the prosecution documents were part of a war game scenario used in a military seminar and that other documents were faked.,

Ergenekon Case

“Ergenekon”, which has brought the arrest of hundreds of academics, journalists and businessmen as well as military, involved plans for a campaign of disinformation, bombing and assassinations intended to trigger an army coup.

The military has toppled four governments in the past 50 years in coups that ranged in nature from violent takeovers with killings and executions to the more subtle behind-the-scenes action that easedTurkey’s first Islamist-led government from power in 1997. Advocates of the army argue they have saved the country from chaos while critics say repeated interventions have deformed and undermined democratic development.

Lawyers involved in the Sledgehammer case told Reuters the prosecutor read only a summary of his 920-page final arguments. Some lawyers expected a verdict within around 10 days, although others said the process could be stretched out further.

Dogan lawyer Ulgen said defence lawyers had refused to take part in Thursday’s hearing, arguing that their right to a fair defence was being violated.

He said forensic tests of CDs presented as prosecution evidence showed they could not have been produced before 2007, four years after the alleged coup plot, but the court refused to take those tests commissioned by the defence into consideration[2].”

The defense lawyers are right to be aggrieved.   The judge made an error inadmissible even in a kangaroo court.  He refused to hear a defense witness.  He even refused to rule that the testimony of the witness is impertinent to the case.  And the defense witness’ testimony in highly material for its arguments. The person in question is the Commander of the Land Forces (Army) Gen Aytaç Yalman, who according to the indictment, heard of the coup attempt and than stopped it.  Let’s hear what Yalman has to say:

“Retired Land Forces Commander Gen. Aytaç Yalman has said he is ready to tell the court all he knows regarding coup plans in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) if he is summoned to testify as a suspect in the ongoing Sledgehammer coup trial, the Vatan daily reported on Friday.

Çetin Doğan, a retired general and a key suspect in the ongoing Sledgehammer coup case, and his lawyers have been calling on Yalman and former chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Özkök to testify in the case as witnesses.

“I am doing my best to ensure that the court summons me to testify as a suspect in the case. If I become a witness in the case, I will tell the court all I know,” Yalman told the Vatan daily.

In the first indictment prepared for the Sledgehammer case, prosecutors say Yalman prevented coup plots within the military from being put into action, and as a result, Doğan made insulting statements about Yalman for his role in preventing coups.

The İstanbul 10th High Criminal Court, which is hearing the Sledgehammer trial, has not yet summoned Yalman or Özkök to testify as witnesses despite calls from Doğan and his lawyers.

“Let’s wait for a few days more. I think something will happen. I am expecting the court to summon me. I did my best to ensure this. If the court summons me, I will be pleased to go. Why should I not go? I will tell all I know there. I will tell all the facts,” said Yalman.

Sledgehammer is a suspected coup plan devised at a military gathering in 2003 that allegedly sought to undermine the government in order to lay the groundwork for a coup d’état.

Sledgehammer was discussed at a seminar held at the General Staff’s Selimiye barracks in March 2003, shortly after the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) was swept to power as a single-party government. According to the plan, the military was to systematically foment chaos in society through violent acts, among which were planned bomb attacks on the Fatih and Beyazıt mosques in İstanbul.

There are a total of 365 suspects, 250 of whom are jailed, standing trial in the case. They are accused of a failed attempt to destroy Parliament and overthrow the government[3].

The strange case of Sledgehammer trial doesn’t end there, according to Sedat Ergin of Hurriyet[4], the bench violated the very basic premises of the Turkish Court Procedures Law by skipping a step in the trial:  He denied the defense a chance to refute the arguments provided by the prosecutor!!!.

.

It gets funnier.  According to VATAN and other Turkish news sources, the 4 CDs, presumably containing digital copies of all coup plans and orders to key officers to get ready are doctored[5].  According to a panel of experts fromYildizUniversity, the most critical piece of prosecution evidence is produced in 2007, four years after the coup plans were supposed to be made.  Finally, how come civilians, non-commissioned officers and four-star generals all get the same 15-20 year prison terms?  Is a sergeant as culpable as a four-star general in coup attempts?  Even in the Nuremberg trials judges differentiated between types of crimes and those  who gave and followed orders.

Now, am I right to think that had Yalman testified that he heard of no coup rumors and the CDs were indeed proven to be counterfeit the whole case would have collapsed? Am I right to think that the true crime of these army personnel is not concocting a coup but standing in the way of AKP and the Sunni religious orders? Am I wrong to conclude that this case is started and shall be decided to set an example to all secularists who dare resist AKP and the shadowy network of religious orders that do the party’s dirty work?

Some among our readers, as I do, may take heart in the recent release from detention of  Mr. Rakip Zarakolu, a famous leftist intellectual and publisher. We may conclude that AKP has learned from its mistakes and shall order the judiciary to act in more responsible ways.  Hopefully, yet it is a funny coincidence that the release came right after Turkey’s most famous imam Mr. Fethullah Gulen issued fetva[6] on the mission, objectives and public demeanor of the members of the Gulenist Order.  The fetva was interpreted as a peace offering to AKP. And Mr. Zarakolu’s release was tribute, I would add. I suppose if Erdogan ends the purge of Gulenists in the bureaucracy and party ranks, as well as grant the faithful a few more big public tenders,  Prof Dr Busra Ersanlı and the remaining 7,500 KCK suspects who probably committed no crimes but PKK advocacy and espouse separatism could also be released. I’ll say “amen” to that.

Atilla Yeşilada

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