Voice recording reveals plans to free Cihaner

May 19, 2010, Wednesday/ 17:32:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
A voice recording between two members of the Supreme Court of Appeals has revealed more plans to free Erzincan Chief Public Prosecutor İlhan Cihaner, who was arrested in February on charges of membership in a criminal gang, from prison.

    The speakers in the voice recording are Supreme Court of Appeals judges Hamdi Yaver Aktan and Fatih Arkan. Aktan tells Arkan that he told Supreme Court of Appeals judge Ersan Ülker that he would become the head of the Supreme Court of Appeals if he ensures that two cases against Cihaner are merged and that he is freed from prison. Ülker is the head of the 11th Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court of Appeals early this week asked an Erzurum court to “urgently” send it all documents regarding a case it is hearing against Cihaner. The 11th Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals was expected to rule to merge the two cases against Cihaner, who is facing charges of falsification of documents and membership in an armed terrorist organization in separate trials. No ruling has yet been made regarding a possible merger of the two cases. However, the chamber said it wanted to see the relevant documents from the Erzurum court before the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court makes an expected decision.

The decision concerns whether to merge Cihaner’s Erzurum court case with a case it is currently hearing in which Col. Dursun Çiçek and several others are on trial for creating a plot to overthrow the government.

“I told Ersan Ülker that he will be the head of the Supreme Court of Appeals if he ensures this. I told him that there are three candidates for this position, Abdurrahman Yalçınkaya [chief prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals], [Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) Deputy Chairman] Kadir Özbek and you. I told this to each of them. The one who achieves this will win,” Aktan says in the voice recording.

The “abuse of power” and “falsification of documents” charges that Cihaner faces in the Supreme Court of Appeals trial stem from a probe he conducted into a number of religious communities in Erzincan. Prosecutors claim that Cihaner carried out the investigation illegally. One of the religious groups Cihaner investigated is mentioned in an indictment against Ergenekon, a clandestine gang planning to overthrow the government. According to the indictment, Ergenekon was trying to infiltrate the religious community. Prosecutors believe Cihaner launched the probe into the religious groups as part of a suspected military plot to undermine the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government.

Titled the Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism, the plot mentions a subversive plan by the armed forces to overthrow the government. According to the plan, ammunition and weapons would be planted in the houses where followers of some religious communities lived, and these weapons would later be found during a police search.

In the voice recording, Aktan also complains that some news reports that appeared in the media before Cihaner’s trial had frightened some judicial members, causing them to postpone his trial to May 14.

Aktan and Arkan are being heard accusing some members of the Supreme Court of Appeals of fearing to act to save Cihaner. According to them, Sedat Bakıcı, a member of the 11th Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals, is one of those “cowards.”

During their conversation, Aktan says chief prosecutor Yalçınkaya may file another closure case against the ruling AK Party; however, this might create a negative effect on the election results slated for 2011.

“Abdurrahman can file another closure case. If another closure case [against the AK Party] is launched, this may negatively influence the election results. But he may not have the authority to file a closure case after the elections.”

Yalçınkaya filed a closure case against the AK Party in 2008 over charges of anti-secular activities; however, the party was not closed. A reform package drafted by the government foresaw making party closures more difficult, but it was removed from the package due to lack of sufficient support from Parliament.

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