Yıldırım: Some are trying to connect me to Ergenekon

Fenerbahce Chairman Aziz Yıldırım is escorted by plainclothes police officers at a courthouse in İstanbul in this July 8 file photo. (Photo: AA)

May 04, 2012, Friday/ 16:52:00

Speaking to judge Mehmet Ekinci during the 15th hearing of a match-fixing case on Friday, Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım, who is under arrest as part of a match-fixing trial, stated that there are people who are trying to connect him to Ergenekon, a clandestine criminal network charged with plotting to overthrow the government.

“They are trying to connect me to Ergenekon. They claim that I'm the financier of Ergenekon. Yet, this is the claim of a deputy. Where is his proof? If I had made the statements that [Trabzonspor Chairman] Sadri Şener had, I would have been tried for involvement in Ergenekon,” Yıldırım said.

Furthermore, the Fenerbahçe chairman claimed that he is not behind bars for match-fixing allegations and that he cannot understand where this trial is heading.

Ergenekon, a clandestine criminal network charged with plotting to overthrow the government, is thought to have been behind a series of murders and political assassinations that took place in Turkey in an attempt to create chaos and stage a coup. There are currently 256 suspects in the Ergenekon investigation, including 61 jailed.

He added that he announced his bid for the chairmanship of Fenerbahçe a few days ago and added that he wants to be released as there is no reason to suspect he would leave the country. He concluded his statement by saying: “Release the others if you're not going to release me. You have me in hand and that should be enough for you. If there is a price to pay, I can pay for it on my own. Even if I were to be executed, my last words would be Fenerbahçe.”

Ten suspects who have been jailed pending trial in the historic match-fixing case attended the hearing, which was conducted at the İstanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan. Among the suspects were former Giresunspor Chairman Olgun Peker, Fenerbahçe Chairman Yıldırım, Sivasspor Chairman Mecnun Odyakmaz, Fenerbahçe Manager İlhan Ekşioğlu and Fenerbahçe Financial Affairs Manager Tamer Yelkovan.

The Fenerbahçe chairman faces six serious charges of fraud, four for match-fixing and three for incentive payment (bribing the opposing team). Yıldırım is also accused by prosecutors of establishing and running a criminal organization to generate illegal profits. Prosecutor Mehmet Berk, who is spearheading the investigation, has asked the court to sentence Yıldırım to 59-132 years in prison for the felonies.