15 ex-cops receive life sentences on coup charges over graft probe against Erdogan administration

Fifteen cops were on Monday sentenced by an Istanbul court for their involvement in the December 2013 graft probe that saw sons of senior Turkish cabinet members detained.

The officers were sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of attempting to overthrow the government.

On 17 December 2013, 52 people, among them sons of three ministers and business figures close to then-Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had been detained after raids conducted at dawn in Istanbul.

The headquarters of state-run Halkbank in the capital Ankara was searched as well. Detainees were charged with taking bribes from an Iranian gold trader, Reza Zarrab, who was also in custody, in exchange of helping Iran avoid the US sanctions.

Erdogan accused the police officers in charge of the probe of attempting a coup to topple his administration, pointing fingers at the Gulen Movement, led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

The police officers were reassigned and replaced with others. One week after the initial raids, an arrest warrant was issued by a public prosecutor for Bilal Erdogan, Erdogan’s son. The newly assigned police force did not carry out the commands of the public prosecution and the warrant was rendered null and void.

Erdogan cracked down on the judiciary and the police following the raids, removing the prosecutors, demoting and reassigning thousands of police officers and reassigning judges.

Zarrab and the cabinet ministers’ sons were released from jail after seventy days. In July 2014, the police officers involved in the probe were detained and imprisoned for carrying out a “judicial coup” to overthrow the Turkish government.

Following the failed 2016 coup, police officers, prosecutors, and judges who were allegedly involved with the probe were dismissed, along with thousands of others.

The case resurfaced in the United States in 2016, with Zarrab being detained for violating US sanctions. Zarrab chose to plead guilty and cooperate with the prosecution after months of imprisonment. His testimony against senior Halkbank official Hakan Attila made him an
enemy of the state back in Turkey, despite the fact that Erdogan once identified him as a charitable man back in 2013.

The court case in the United States enthralled Turkey’s public, for Zarrab’s testimony revealed many scandals that have rocked Turkey, including bribery.

The case against the police officers had 67 defendants, 15 of them received aggravated life sentences, 22 defendants received sentences varying between 2 and 6 years, 24 defendants were acquitted.

The court did not issue any sentences for the six who are at large, among them Fethullah Gulen, who is being tried as the mastermind of the probe.

Former sergeant Huseyin Korkmaz was also among the ones at large, who, after being released on judicial control before the failed coup, managed to flee the country and testified in a US Federal court against Attila.

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