October 27, 2016

Turkish prosecutors demand two life sentences for Gulen

Fethullah Gulen is accused of orchestrating the failed coup in Turkey last month. (File Photo)

Istanbul- Turkish prosecutors have demanded two life sentences and an additional 1,900 years in prison for US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for masterminding last month’s failed coup, state media reported on Tuesday.

In a 2,527-page indictment approved by prosecutors in the Usak region of western Turkey, Gulen is charged with “attempting to destroy the constitutional order by force” and “forming and running an armed terrorist group” among other accusations, the Anadolu news agency reported.

Thirteen out of 111 suspects in the case are remanded in custody, it said. All face prison terms ranging from two years to life in jail.

The so-called Fethullah Terror Organisation (FETO) — the name Ankara gives for the group led by Gulen — had infiltrated state archives through its members in the state institutions and intelligence units, according to the indictment.

The group has used foundations, private schools, companies, student dormitories, media outlets and insurance companies to serve its purpose of taking control of all state institutions, it added.

It has also collected funds from businessmen in the name of “donations” and transferred the money to the United States by means of front companies, and by using banks in the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan and Germany, Anadolu reported.

The case dates back to September 2015, even before the failed coup, and had been launched by the Usak prosecutor’s office into the financial assets of FETO.

Gulen, the reclusive cleric in who has lived in the United States since 1999, has been repeatedly accused of running a “parallel state” since a corruption scandal embroiling President, then premier, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and several of his ministers erupted in 2013.

Since July 15, Turkey’s crackdown on his supporters has intensified with tens of thousands of people from the military, judiciary, civil service and education sector dismissed from their jobs or detained.

Turkey has pressed the United States to extradite Gulen to face trial at home and expressed frustration that Washington seems in no hurry to consider the matter. From his secluded Pennsylvania base, Gulen has vehemently denied playing any part in the coup.

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