İstanbul Deputy Chief Prosecutor Turan Çolakkadı accepted the indictment yesterday, which was submitted to him by civilian prosecutors in mid-April. The İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court, with a majority of votes, issued an arrest warrant for Col. Dursun Çiçek, whose signature appears under the plot, titled the Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism, which was uncovered by a Turkish daily last year. The presiding judge of the court, Köksal Şengül, dissented.
A military prosecutor recently demanded the arrest of Çiçek, but the General Staff Military Court refused to arrest the colonel on March 1. Çiçek was arrested twice, first in July and then in November, for suspected links to a terrorist organization but was released after brief detentions in jail. The colonel is believed to be key to exposing the pro-coup junta within the armed forces.
The indictment, comprising more than 150 pages, points to former İstanbul Mayor Bedrettin Dalan as the prime suspect in the alleged plot. The document stands as the eighth indictment in the investigation into Ergenekon, a clandestine criminal organization accused of working to overthrow the government and whose dozens of alleged members are currently being tried.
Action plan timeline
June 12, 2009: The Taraf daily published the alleged anti-government plan, titled the “Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism.” The document was signed by Col. Dursun Çiçek. The General Staff ordered a military investigation into the alleged plan on the same day.
June 15, 2009: The General Staff Military Prosecutor’s Office made public its “conviction” on the plan without even seeing the original document. A statement from the office underlined that the document was not prepared at any department of the General Staff.
June 17, 2009: Civilian prosecutors overseeing the Ergenekon probe summoned Col. Çiçek for testimony.
June 24, 2009: The Military Prosecutor’s Office turned a blind eye to separate reports by the Gendarmerie General Command, the İstanbul Police Department and the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) authenticating the action plan and decided not to continue its investigation. The file was sent to the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, which later transferred it to the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office due to lack of jurisdiction.
June 26, 2009: Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ called the plan a “piece of paper” during a press conference. On the same day, Ergenekon prosecutors summoned nine military officers, including Col. Çiçek, to testify as “suspects” as part of the plot probe.
June 30, 2009: Col. Çiçek was arrested on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.
July 1, 2009: The colonel’s lawyers appealed the arrest. The appeal was almost immediately accepted, and Col. Çiçek was released pending trial due to “lack of evidence.”
Sept. 30, 2009: The original version of the action plan was mailed to Ergenekon prosecutors by unidentified individuals. An ATK examination proved the authenticity of the document. The council also announced that the signature on the plot belonged to Col. Çiçek.
Oct. 26, 2009: The General Staff announced that a new investigation was launched into the plot colonel by the Military Prosecutor’s Office.
Nov. 10, 2009: Ergenekon prosecutor Zekeriya Öz announced that his office was waiting for Col. Çiçek to testify as part of the plot investigation.
Nov. 11, 2009: The colonel arrived at the İstanbul Prosecutor’s Office for testimony. He was arrested for a second time on charges of membership in a terrorist organization.
Nov. 13, 2009: Col. Çiçek was released once again due to lack of evidence.
The İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court announced that it would later assess the prosecutors' demand to merge the case with Ergenekon. The plot in question was reportedly drafted by Çiçek and suggests that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) made systematic preparations to damage the image of the ruling AK Party government and the faith-based Gülen movement in the eyes of the public, to play down the Ergenekon investigation and to garner support for members of the military arrested as part of the Ergenekon inquest.
AK Party leader and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is described as a “victim” in the indictment.
Reşat Petek, a retired prosecutor, maintained that the court’s acceptance of the indictment regarding the action plot shows that it takes the allegations about the plot seriously as he explained: “The charges directed against the suspects are very heavy, and if they are proven to be guilty, they may face life sentences. The number one suspect in the case is a fugitive. This shows that other suspects in the case may also flee the country. The authenticity of the plot has been verified by many institutions. For these reasons, the court seems to have concluded that there is strong evidence of an offense.”
The at-large Dalan is the prime suspect, according to the indictment. The document also mentions six other suspects: Dalan’s secretary, İlhami Ümit Handan; lawyer Serdar Öztürk; National Intelligence Organization (MİT) official Ö.Y.; the security chief of Ulusal TV, Ufuk Akkaya; Aydınlık Editor-in-Chief Deniz Yıldırım; and Col. Çiçek.
A copy of the action plan was found by the police during a raid of lawyer Öztürk’s house on June 7, 2009 as part of the Ergenekon investigation.
The first hearing of the trial was slated for June 28. The hearings of the case will be held in the Silivri courthouse where the hearings of the Ergenekon case are also held.
The indictment reportedly recommends life sentences without the possibility of parole for Dalan and Col. Çiçek on charges of working to bring down the government and membership in an armed terrorist organization. The indictment calls for jail terms of at least seven-and-a-half years for the other suspects.
Dalan is the founder of the İstek Foundation, on whose land in Poyrazköy a large number of weapons and a sizable amount of ammunition were found buried last year in an excavation carried out as part of the investigation into Ergenekon.
Turkey applied for an Interpol red notice against Dalan earlier this year, but Interpol decided to circulate a fugitive diffusion instead. A diffusion is usually used by a member country to request assistance from other member countries for the location of a fugitive.
The General Staff has drawn much criticism for downplaying the plot and the charges directed against the suspects. Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ ,who held a press conference after the discovery of the document on June 26, referred to the document as a “piece of paper” in legal terms. In October 2009, an anonymous person mailed the original document to the İstanbul Prosecutor’s Office. The document’s authenticity was confirmed by several institutions including the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK), the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK), the İstanbul Police Crime Laboratory and the Gendarmerie General Command’s Criminal Investigation Department.
The original copy of the Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism is at the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office. The office announced earlier this month that a series of chemical tests on the document by the Military Prosecutor’s Office led to the partial destruction of the original document. The genuine signature, believed to belong to Col. Çiçek, remains intact, according to the prosecutor’s office.