The repercussions of a prosecutor summoning National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan to testify in an ongoing investigation into the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organization that allegedly encompasses the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), who also obtained warrants for four other MİT officials, are still being felt.
Sadrettin Sarıkaya, the İstanbul specially authorized prosecutor who was overseeing the investigation into the KCK, was removed from the case by İstanbul Specially Authorized Deputy Chief Prosecutor Fikret Seçen on Saturday.
İstanbul Chief public Prosecutor Turan Çolakkadı explained the reasons behind Sarıkaya’s removal in remarks to the Sabah daily on Sunday, saying the prosecutor was withdrawn from the KCK case on the grounds that he violated the confidentiality of the investigation and hid information from his superiors.
Another development concerning the incidents centering around MİT is that a bill drafted by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government seeking to stipulate that permission must be obtained from the prime minister ahead of investigations into intelligence officials came to the floor of Parliament on Wednesday after it was approved by Parliament’s Justice Commission late on Tuesday.
The bill, drafted by AK Party Isparta deputy Recep Özel, aims to amend Article 26 of the Law on MİT Personnel. The Justice Commission endorsed the bill on Tuesday night and added an additional ad hoc article, allowing incumbent MİT Undersecretary Fidan to benefit from the law. The article states that the law will be applicable to ongoing investigations that were launched before the bill was adopted.
Meanwhile, some reports in the media claim that the KCK was actually founded under MİT oversight. It was alleged that orders for some of the KCK’s attacks were given from sources inside MİT.
Feb. 11, Saturday
İstanbul Specially Authorized Prosecutor Sadrettin Sarıkaya, who was overseeing an investigation into a terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)-affiliated organization, was removed from the case following his attempt last week to summon the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) undersecretary to testify as part of the probe. Two new prosecutors were assigned to the case after Sarıkaya’s removal.
Feb. 12, Sunday
A parliamentary commission investigating intra-organization killings carried out by the terrorist PKK filed a criminal complaint with the Ankara Public Prosecutors’ Office over the weekend after hearing the claims of Kurdish politicians and intellectuals.
Turkish fighter jets carried out airstrikes on two targets in northern Iraq in an ongoing campaign to counter terrorist PKK members hiding in camps there, the Turkish military said. The statement the General Staff posted online early on Sunday said Turkish Air Force jets “successfully” hit a PKK cave and shelter in the Zap and Hakurk regions of northern Iraq on Saturday night. The statement also said the operations were carried out based on intelligence and target analysis in the region.
Five suspects were arrested and formally charged for their alleged link to the September abduction of Syrian military defectors Mustafa Kassum and Col. Hussein Harmush.
Feb. 13, Monday
A recent call by the Arab League requesting the UN Security Council create a joint peacekeeping force in Syria was welcomed by Turkey, which is planning a regional initiative to address the escalating situation in Syria, Turkish Foreign Ministry officials said.
Five more skulls were found during excavations in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, bringing the total number of human skulls found in the province’s historic İçkale neighborhood over the past few weeks to 34.
At least 10 members of the outlawed PKK and two Turkish soldiers were killed in clashes in eastern Turkey. Turkish security forces launched an air assault on suspected PKK positions in the Uludere district of Şırnak province and killed 10 members of the terrorist organization. Two Turkish soldiers were killed and three others injured during the ensuing clash with the PKK.
More than 100 people were detained early in the day for suspected links to the terrorist Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) during operations carried out in 30 provinces across Turkey. Among the premises raided were the offices of the Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions (KESK), the Trade Union of Public Employees in Health and Social Services (SES) and the All Municipal and Local Administration Workers’ Union (TÜM BEL-SEN), all in Ankara.
Bülent Sarıkahya, a civil servant at the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and a key suspect in a government investigation of an alleged military plan to promote anti-ruling party propaganda on the Internet, testified about using military servers to host “propaganda sites” that criticized the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). “We were hosting these [propaganda] sites on our servers,” Sarıkahya told the İstanbul 13th High Criminal court during a court session on Monday.
Ankara police raided the offices of the Public Procurement Authority (KİK), where they detained 22 people on charges of tender rigging. Teams from the Ankara Police Department’s Anti-smuggling and Organized Crime Bureau searched the KİK offices in Ankara early on Monday. The officers who searched the KİK officials’ offices and computers during the raid also seized some 60 tender documents. According to police sources, KİK employees are suspected of having helped several companies win public tenders by issuing reports that favored them. The detained officials are said to have rigged some 40 public tenders, and the examination of a further 20 tender documents continues.
Feb. 14, Tuesday
Following a series of conferences addressing the problems faced by different communities in Turkey, the Laz and Circassian communities have demanded constitutional changes be made to preserve their social and cultural rights, including recognition of their local languages and that they be taught in school.
The Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office rejected a request that former Chief of General Staff retired Gen. İlker Başbuğ, who is currently jailed in a coup plot probe, be tried by the Supreme State Council instead of a specially authorized court.
Feb. 15, Wednesday
An indictment seeking aggravated life imprisonment for Başbuğ on coup charges was accepted by an İstanbul court. Başbuğ was put behind bars by an İstanbul court after he testified last month as a suspect in an investigation into an alleged Internet campaign to discredit Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AK Party. Başbuğ is a senior administrator of the extension of the Ergenekon terrorist organization in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), some of whose members hold high-ranking positions in the military, the indictment said.
The 10th İstanbul High Criminal Court demanded that former chiefs of General Staff Yaşar Büyükanıt and İlker Başbuğ along with Gendarmerie Commander Bekir Kalyoncu testify in the Sledgehammer probe. A prosecutor who headed an investigation of several former chiefs of General Staff, including Gen. Işık Koşaner, Gen. Başbuğ, Gen. Büyükanıt and Gen. İsmail Hakkı Karadayı -- all of whom stood accused of violating the constitutional order and laws -- recently dismissed the charges due to a lack of grounds for legal action. Meanwhile, the lawyer for 11 Sledgehammer coup plot suspects, Mahir Işıkay, has submitted a petition requesting Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel be summoned as a witness in the ongoing trial. Sledgehammer is a coup plot believed to have been devised in 2003 with the aim of unseating the AK Party government.
The Ankara Prosecutor’s Office, which is conducting an investigation into claims of corruption involving the Public Procurement Authority (KİK), whose offices Ankara police raided on Monday, has found that corruption took place in the Ankara-Konya highway construction tender, which Fermak A.Ş. won in 2009. Upon finding out that Fermak A.Ş., which is run by Ferit Rızvanoğlu, the deputy chairman of the Kasımpaşaspor football club, allegedly bribed several KİK officials to manipulate the Ankara-Konya highway construction tender in favor of the company in 2009, the prosecutor’s office also found out that Fermak A.Ş. allegedly bribed the officials in order to win the tender of another public project, the İstanbul Pendik-Tuzla highway construction project, the Taraf daily reported.
Feb. 16, Thursday
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader said his party will seek the annulment at the Constitutional Court of a bill that requires prosecutors to receive special permission from the prime minister when taking legal action against or questioning MİT officials if the bill is approved in Parliament.
A progressive step has been taken in animal rights, with the consensus of civil society organizations and all political parties in Parliament. Environment and Forestry Minister Veysel Eroğlu during a press conference at Parliament said existing legislation was examined and that new legislation will soon be referred to Parliament.
The Supreme Court of Appeals announced its verdict on a 2009 massacre in Mardin’s Bilge village, in which 44 people were killed, upholding the sentence of 44 consecutive life terms for four of six suspects. The Çorum High Criminal Court in April 2010 had originally decided on life without parole for six of the men convicted in the case, but the ruling has only been upheld for four of them. The four were all sentenced to 44 consecutive life terms.
Foreign Ministry officials denied Turkish media allegations that the government demanded any humanitarian aid corridor to Syria be established through the Mediterranean Sea, rather than through Turkish territory. Officials said Turkey will abide by resolutions based on the consensus of international bodies such as the UN and claimed it is too early to comment on the possible location of a humanitarian corridor to Syria, the establishment of which will depend on a UN Security Council resolution.
Members of the parliamentary Uludere Commission, who have seen video footage taken by Heron unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Uludere before 34 villagers were killed while smuggling goods from northern Iraq in a Turkish military airstrike late at night on Dec. 28 of last year, said the footage clearly shows those people were villagers.
European politicians aim to woo their voters and win their support by attacking or offending Muslims across the region, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary-General Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu said. “There are efforts by European politicians to use Islamophobia as a tool to win votes. Assailing and offending Muslims has become the ugliest tool to win the advantage in elections. The more one attacks Muslims and offends them, the more votes are gained, which can be turned into a seat in Parliament,” İhsanoğlu said.
The presence of the PKK has dramatically increased in Syria’s restive northern provinces as the group looks to build ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and capitalize on the chaos that has gripped Syria for nearly a year. Local sources said that a 150-person PKK camp has been established in the Ra’s al-’Ayn district of Syria, a province that sits across the border from the southeastern Turkish province of Şanlıurfa.
Feb. 17, Friday
A Diyarbakır special prosecutor who is investigating the unlawful executions and forced disappearances committed in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern regions in the 1990s has started to hear the testimony of some Kurdish political activists in that regard. İbrahim Güçlü, a Kurdish politician and founder of the Rights and Freedoms Party (HAK-PAR), who has already provided a list of people who were killed within the PKK to the head of Parliament’s Human Rights Investigation Commission, told Specially Authorized Public Prosecutor Osman Coşkun that the PKK executed opposition voices in the organization. “The number of those killings has reached about 10,000 since they started in 1976,” he said.
Vice Adm. Mehmet Otuzbiroğlu, a suspect in the anti-government Internet campaign case, confessed during Friday’s hearing that he approved the publication of the websites, allegedly set up to disseminate anti-government propaganda. Otuzbiroğlu, who was head of the War Information Systems Unit (MEBS) between August 2007 and August 2009, rejected the allegations that he was involved in the preparation process of the websites and said they were presented for his approval after they were completed.
Union of Football Associations (UEFA) Vice President Şenes Erzik is likely to return to his old post as president of the Turkish Football Federation (TFF), which has been plunged into a chaos with the resignation of President Mehmet Ali Aydınlar amidst a match-fixing crisis.