The 11th Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals ruled to release Erzincan Chief Public Prosecutor İlhan Cihaner, who is accused of membership in a terrorist organization and abuse of power in separate cases.
The chamber initially decided unanimously to merge the two legal cases against the prosecutor without waiting for the original documents regarding the terror case in which Cihaner was being accused of membership in Ergenekon, a clandestine criminal network accused of working to overthrow the government. The chamber said the two cases have “personal and de facto links.”
“The suspect [Cihaner] was arrested regardless of whether the accusations directed at him are strong enough for an arrest,” the chamber noted, adding that it had decided to release the suspect without any conditions. In a case heard by an Erzurum court, Cihaner was accused of working in line with a suspected military plot to undermine the AK Party.
Titled the Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism, the plot mentioned a subversive plan to plant ammunition and weapons in the houses of members of some religious communities. The munitions would later be found during police searchs and the residents of those places would be accused of terrorist activities.
Cihaner was also accused of abuse of power and falsification of documents during an investigation he conducted, a case heard by the 11th Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals.
For most observers, the 11th Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals decision on the Cihaner case was “unprecedented” in Turkey, saying it is against the law for a court to release a suspect from prison without first examining the case file.
The decision was a strong indicator that a plan to save Cihaner from prison ran like clockwork. A plan to save him was exposed in May with the emergence of a voice recording that appeared on news websites.
The speakers in the voice recording were allegedly Supreme Court of Appeals judges Hamdi Yaver Aktan and Fatih Arkan. On the recordings, Aktan was heard telling Arkan that he offered Supreme Court of Appeals judge Ersan Ülker the leadership of the Supreme Court of Appeals if he could ensure that the two cases against Cihaner were merged and Cihaner freed from prison. Ülker was the head of the 11th Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals.