Trabzon munitions may be linked to Ergenekon, says governor

In the operations conducted by the Trabzon police, a gun, a Kalashnikov rifle and hand grenades were found in Yomra.

December 15, 2008, Monday/ 15:30:00
Hand grenades seized during police raids in the Black Sea city of Trabzon on Saturday appear to be of the same batch found in the Ergenekon investigation, a statement from the governor of Trabzon has indicated.Four people were taken in for questioning Saturday after nine hand grenades and a cache of guns were discovered during simultaneous police raids conducted in central Trabzon and the nearby village of Yomra. Two others believed to be linked with the four suspects were also detained on Sunday.

In the operations conducted by the Trabzon police, a gun and eight 7.65 mm bullets for it, a Kalashnikov rifle and three chargers, a total of 420 7.62 mm Kalashnikov bullets and a hand grenade were found in Yomra. In operations in the city, eight hand grenades were found buried underground. Six suspects were taken into custody after the operations. The police detention period for the suspects was prolonged Sunday afternoon for further interrogation.

Trabzon Gov. Nuri Okutan said questions have been raised about a connection to Ergenekon after the discovery of ammunition that appears to have the same batch numbers as grenades found in June of 2007 in a shanty house in İstanbul's Ümrainye district that started the Ergenekon investigation.

"All possibilities are being considered during the investigation process. ... A coordinated investigation is also under way in other provinces," Gov. Okutan told reporters. The governor said none of the suspects were public officials or members of the military.

In response to nearly 50 press members who gathered in front of the Trabzon Police Department following the rumors that the weapons seized could be linked to Ergenekon, Okutan said the individuals captured did appear to have links to other criminal organizations and networks, adding that they were not ruling out any possibility.

Eighty-six suspects are standing trial in the Silivri courthouse in Tekirdağ in the Ergenekon investigation. They face charges of provoking the people to revolt against the government as well as other crimes. The charges were brought as the result of an investigation that started accidentally when ammunition and weapons were discovered in a house in a poor İstanbul neighborhood in June 2007.

During the course of the investigation, which lasted more than a year, dozens of suspects were detained, released or arrested on suspicion of trying to take over the state. Journalists, academics, writers and retired senior army generals are among the suspects.

The police on Sunday said they were investigating whether any of the weaponry seized in Trabzon had been used in any attack. Sources said the Trabzon raids had been conducted based on a tip-off to the police about gun smugglers in the area. 

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