‘Sledgehammer’ judge gets 13 years in prison over terror charges

An Istanbul court has sentenced Omer Diken, a former judge who presided
over the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) trial, to 13 years and four months in prison
over terror-related charges, the T24 news portal reported on Monday.

Diken, among other members of the judiciary, was detained on July 17, 2016, several days after the failed coup attempt that targeted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.

He was arrested pending trial soon after his detention in the western province of Usak.

Being the former chief judge of Istanbul’s 10th high criminal court, where he
chaired the Balyoz trial that started in 2012, Diken was accused of being a
member of the Gulen movement, which Ankara calls a terror organization.

The Turkish government blames the movement, led by the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, for organizing the attempted putsch on July 15, 2016, although the group strongly denies involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

The Izmir 16th High Criminal Court on Monday ruled for the continuation of
Diken’s detention and gave him 13 years and four months in prison on charges that include “being a member of an armed terrorist organization.”

Sledgehammer was an alleged coup plot drafted by the military to overthrow
AKP in 2003, a year after the Islamist-rooted party came into power.

The plan was claimed to involve drastic measures to foment unrest in the
country, such as bombing two historic mosques, in a bid to provoke a clash
between conservative Turks and the army.

It also included the downing of an air force jet to escalate tensions with
neighboring Greece in order to force parliament into backing martial law,
allowing the military to seize power.

A decision by the top court, which stated that the rights of a majority of the
convicted suspects in the Sledgehammer coup plot case were violated, initiated the release of convicts in 2014 and they were subsequently acquitted of all charges.

“Sledgehammer” prosecutor receives 15-year jail term on coup charges

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