Indictment documents Cihaner's attempts to bypass court rulings
Jailed Erzincan Chief Public Prosecutor İlhan Cihaner stands accused of attempting to subvert the judicial process in addition to membership in a terrorist organization.
The case is related to an alleged military plot drafted by an active duty colonel against faith-based groups in Turkey. The plot is believed to have been put into operation by Cihaner and 3rd Army Commander Gen. Saldıray Berk. According to the indictment, Cihaner was engaged in several attempts -- referred to as “illegal” by an Erzincan court -- to bypass the rulings of the same court.
The indictment underlines that Cihaner refused many times to transfer his investigation into the religious İsmailağa community to the specially authorized prosecutors in Erzurum, claiming that the community was not a terrorist organization.
But the plot the chief prosecutor is accused of implementing includes plans to plant weapons and ammunition in the homes of members of certain religious communities. The public would then start believing that these communities had “terrorist intentions,” according to the indictment.
Cihaner also ordered the release of two secret witnesses, using the code names “X” and “Y,” who were in custody at the Erzincan Police Department. The witnesses were expected to be interrogated by an Erzincan court over their accusations against İliç Prosecutor Bayram Bozkurt. The prosecutor was reportedly preparing to plant hand grenades at a café in Erzincan. It was later revealed that the testimony of the witnesses was part of a separate plot against Bozkurt.
The indictment also suggests that Cihaner later forced “X” not to withdraw his testimony against Bozkurt.
After the witness insisted on retracting his testimony, Cihaner asked an Erzincan court to arrest him. When the court refused to arrest the witness, the now-jailed prosecutor asked the court to issue a technical follow-up decision for X. The court, however, turned down that request, as well.
After failing to receive help from the court, Cihaner ordered gendarmerie officers in the city to follow the witness. He also authorized the officers to detain the witness, if necessary. The follow-up was interrupted when the Erzincan court intervened and ordered the gendarmerie not to cooperate with the prosecutor.
The first hearing in the Cihaner trial is slated for May 4. The indictment lists Gen. Berk as the prime suspect and accuses Cihaner of putting into action part of the suspected military plot, titled the “Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism.”
Other suspects named in the indictment include Erzincan Provincial Gendarmerie Regiment Commander Col. Ali Tapan, Eskişehir Provincial Gendarmerie Regiment Commander Col. Recep Gençoğlu, Erzincan Provincial Gendarmerie Intelligence Department Director Nedim Ersan and Erzincan Provincial Gendarmerie Intelligence Department Deputy Director Esin Ergut.
In the meantime, the owners of the Paradise Patisserie and one of its workers, who were detained on Tuesday, were interrogated by specially authorized Erzurum prosecutor Ender Karadeniz. There was no information immediately available on whether they were to be released or arrested. The patisserie made its way into the spotlight after Republican People’s Party (CHP) İzmir deputy Ahmet Ersin reportedly had a meeting there with a secret witness in the Erzincan case known by the code name “Munzur” to convince him to retract his testimony against Cihaner.