At a press conference in Antalya on Monday morning, Turkish Football Federation (TFF) head Yıldırım Demirören stated that the match-fixing alleged to have taken place during the previous season did not affect what happened on the pitch.
Turkey is still reeling over the major match-fixing investigation, in which 93 defendants, including leading football officials and players, are being tried in a case that has cast a shadow over the country’s multi-billion dollar league.
The TFF head said the football federation has decided to refer 16 clubs to the Professional Football Discipline Committee (PFDK), a disciplinary body that is also part of the TFF, in relation to 22 league matches played last year. Demirören, the former chairman of the Beşiktaş Football Club, some of whose officials and players are also implicated in the match-rigging scandal, said referring the clubs to the PFDK was not an attempt to intervene in the ongoing judicial process regarding the match-fixing allegations but merely served to provide clubs with a way to avoid paying for the wrongful actions of individuals. Sadri Şener’s Trabzonspor Football Club on Tuesday demanded to see a copy of the ethics committee’s report, while Galatasaray fans announced they were going to hold a protest on Wednesday in response to the TFF announcement.
Meanwhile, Fenerbahçe Chairman Aziz Yıldırım, who has been behind bars as a suspect in a match-fixing trial since July 3, 2011, announced on Tuesday that he will run again for chairman during the extraordinary congress to be held on May 19-20.
Sports commentators have drawn attention to the fact that Yıldırım announced his decision right after Demirören’s statement on Monday.
April 28, Saturday
A fact sheet recently sent from the Hakkari Police Department to the National Police Department over operations conducted against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Hakkari two weeks ago revealed that hand grenades seized in a PKK shelter were found to have belonged to Iran.
April 29, Sunday
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced plans to privatize theaters currently funded by municipalities, escalating a row that pits theater artists against the government. “There is no such thing as a theater being funded by the state in most developed countries,” Erdoğan said at a meeting in İstanbul, announcing that he would ask the Cabinet to push for privatization. “I am privatizing the theaters. This is what I am going to propose. Stage whatever play you want after privatization,” he said, criticizing theater artists for both being paid by the municipality and freely criticizing the authorities in their plays.
A telephone recording containing a conversation between two Turkish Armed Forces Assistance Center Defense and Security Systems (OYAK SGS) engineers and released by police revealed that OYAK SGS had not installed camera systems at several strategic points at its İskenderun naval base, where the outlawed PKK killed seven soldiers in 2010.
April 30, Monday
A retired major, Ahmet Aka, was arrested as part of an investigation into the Feb. 28, 1997 unarmed military intervention, being conducted by the Ankara Specially Authorized Prosecutor’s Office. He faces charges of forcibly overthrowing the government, preventing the government from performing its duties and attempting a coup d’état.
İstanbul Garrison Commander Brig. Gen. Muhittin Yenikeçeci, who is accused of having helped Maj. Gen. Mustafa Bakıcı flee after an arrest warrant was issued in his name in an anti-government websites probe, says his garrison can enable Bakıcı to flee to the US if needed, a recently released voice recording suggests. In a recording posted on video-sharing site dailymotion.com on Monday, a voice, alleged that of Yenikeçeci, says his garrison holds a “critical position” as it is responsible for following legal cases against members of the military. “I mean, if we are asked to do so, we can enable Mustafa Bakıcı to flee to the US,” he said. Bakıcı is wanted in connection with an investigation into more than 40 websites run by the General Staff, which prosecutors say sought to spread anti-government propaganda.
At least 15 of the 36 smugglers who were killed in an air strike by the Turkish Air Forces (THK) in late December of last year as they were crossing the border from northern Iraq into Şırnak’s Uludere district were killed with the full knowledge that they were not PKK terrorists, and this information was not relayed to higher-ranking officers at the time, a 230-page report compiled by inspectors from the Interior Ministry claims.
The owner of the building where three Christian missionaries who operated a Bible publishing house were killed brutally has claimed that two National Intelligence Organization (MİT) agents visited the publishing house two days before as well as on the day of the murder. Republican People’s Party (CHP) Malatya deputy Veli Ağbaba, who also owns the building where the Zirve Publishing House’s office is located, said: “MİT was watching the publishing house. They allowed the murders to happen by not protecting the publishers. The MİT agents who were monitoring the publishing house were there on the day of the murder.”
May 1, Tuesday
A recent report prepared by the Turkish police has provided a glimpse into drug trafficking in Turkey and Europe, suggesting the terrorist PKK and the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) dominate the drug trade in Europe and traffic drugs from Afghanistan to Europe through Iran and Turkey.
Turkey will most likely balk at a request to extradite fugitive Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who is currently in Turkey, if the Iraqi government formally files such a request for him to be arrested and turned over to Iraqi authorities to stand trial. The reason has more to do with the legal requirements of the Turkish judicial system for extraditing suspects than political considerations, officials say. The legal obligations of Turkey stemming from being a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) prohibit it from handing any person over to another country if the suspect will likely be executed.
Although Turkey has remained a “partly free” country in terms of freedom of the press, the country’s score in media freedoms decreased by one point in 2011, according to a report released by Washington-based Freedom House, a leading US human rights organization. “In Turkey, which is also Partly Free, the score declined by one point as the government continued to crack down on unfavorable press coverage in 2011,” read the report, titled “Freedom of the Press 2012: Breakthroughs and Pushback in the Middle East.”
The Supreme Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s verdict that sentenced a group of Molotov cocktail-throwers to prison terms ranging between seven and 15 years and decided to sentence them to life imprisonment over attempting to destroy the country’s unity and territorial integrity and attempted murder on behalf of a terrorist organization.
Retired Gen. Çevik Bir, who was the main actor of the Feb. 28, 1997 unarmed intervention, sent written orders to prosecutors to arrest and imprison a former education minister, Hasan Celal Güzel, during the 1997 era, documents recently found during an investigation into the intervention have shown.
May 2, Wednesday
A new investigation is being launched into the alleged suicide of an army officer in 2000 after prosecutors looking into the 1994 suicide of a gendarmerie colonel determined the death was not a suicide as initially declared, but homicide. Last year, the case concerning the death of Col. Kazım Çillioğlu, who was officially reported to have killed himself in his apartment in 1994, was reopened after the family expressed their suspicions about the circumstances of the colonel’s death. Although there are no suspects as of yet, homicide detectives are now certain that Çillioğlu was shot by someone.
A recent report following a workshop about women’s problems in the predominantly Kurdish eastern and southeastern Anatolia has revealed that more women are joining the PKK to escape early marriage, domestic violence and parental pressure. The “Women’s Problems and Proposed Solutions in Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia” workshop was held in January by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) women’s branch at the party’s headquarters with many academics, journalists and bureaucrats in attendance.
A hitman who worked for illegitimate groups inside the state, such as JİTEM -- an illegal intelligence unit founded inside the gendarmerie believed to be responsible for most of the killings and disappearances that took place mostly in Kurdish regions in the 1990s -- testified to MİT officers in 1995 about an armed group the former deputy chief of the National Police Department’s Special Ops Unit, İbrahim Şahin, had established.
A total of 187,861 people who had to leave their villages due to acts of terrorism have returned to their villages since 2005, when the Return to the Village and Rehabilitation Project (KDRP) was launched in the Southeast. The KDRP helps families who left their villages return, making sure that they can reside in their old village or in another location nearby and have access to the necessary social and economic infrastructure in the area. Under the project, the state gives funds to agricultural, farming and handcraft projects to start life once again in abandoned villages and make it permanent.
May 3, Thursday
The General Staff has strongly criticized recent statements by members of the press and by representatives of professional associations targeting the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) for what they call “inactivity” against the government, terming attempts to provoke the military “unfortunate.” The General Staff said in a statement posted online on Thursday that there have recently been frequent news reports and claims that target the TSK -- which it says is performing its legally prescribed duties in the best way it can -- and which “are thought to be serving certain purposes.”
The killing of 37 people during a May Day celebration 35 years ago by snipers who opened fire onto crowds gathered in İstanbul’s Taksim Square, known in Turkey as Bloody May Day, was the result of warring factions among left wing groups, according to historian Halil Berktay.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Gürsel Tekin has resigned from his post, according to reports. However, sources close to the party noted that CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu had not accepted Tekin’s resignation as of Thursday afternoon. The Central Executive Committee (MYK) was expected to discuss Tekin’s resignation.
The former chief of the National Police Department’s Intelligence Department, Bülent Orakoğlu, who testified on Thursday to prosecutors overseeing an investigation into the Feb. 28, 1997 unarmed military intervention as a witness and victim, submitted nine folders of documents to the prosecutors about the illegality of the event. Speaking to reporters in front of the courthouse, Orakoğlu said the documents he handed to the prosecutors include very important information about a number of civilians who collaborated with the military during the coup.
May 4, Friday
Europe’s top court said in an interim ruling that the arrest of retired Gen. Çetin Doğan in the Sledgehammer coup plot probe is legal, stating that the Turkish court’s decision to arrest him was based on legitimate and concrete evidence.
None of the lawyers representing suspects in the Sledgehammer coup plot trial attended the 93rd hearing in protest of the court’s decision not to examine all the digital recordings or hear from a number of witnesses.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blasted those who delivered statements against the TSK and accused it of “inactivity” against the government, stating that some groups who rely on the status quo have begun to insult the military as consolidation of democracy and civilian rule over the political landscape gains real momentum. In a separate speech, Erdoğan said the state will be less involved in supporting theater plays, saying thespians were free to stage whichever play they wanted to, in private theaters.
Atilla Kavdır, who underwent a double-arm transplant in January, died of a urinary tract infection.