A prosecutor is investigating links between an organized crime group known as Atabeyler, whose plans to assassinate Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were uncovered two years ago, and Ergenekon, a shadowy group suspected of trying to overthrow the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), reports said on Thursday.
The Ankara 11th High Criminal Court has requested the file on Ergenekon, some 40 members of which are currently under arrest, from the İstanbul Chief Prosecutor's Office to examine possible links between the two groups, Today's Zaman reported.
The Atabeyler gang was uncovered in a police operation in the Eryaman region of Ankara in 2005. Its members last year were given prison sentences by a military court. An ex-pilot expelled from the military, Murat Eren, was sentenced to five years, seven months and 25 days on charges of exposing the content of confidential documents acquired on the merits of his post and hiding ammunition that belongs to the military.
Former sergeants Erkut Taş and Yasin Yaman were also convicted of hiding ammunition that belongs to the military and were sentenced to five months, 10 days each. A separate lawsuit against the gang members at the Ankara 11th High Criminal Court is still under way.
Members of Ergenekon were arrested in several raids in January of this year at the end of an eight-month operation that began with the discovery of a house full of explosives and ammunition in the Ümraniye district of İstanbul. The gang has several ex-military officers among its members -- including Veli Küçük, a retired general thought to be close to the higher-ups in the organization who have not yet been captured -- and apparent links to individuals and groups within the state bureaucracy. The Ergenekon terrorist organization, as the prosecution now calls it, was allegedly making plans to foment chaos in the country that would eventually justify a military coup d'état against the AK Party. It is suspected to be behind a number of political attacks, including the 2007 killing of a prominent ethnic Armenian journalist and a 2006 shooting at the Council of state that left a senior judge dead.
The Ankara court was expected to deliver its ruling in a hearing on Wednesday; instead, the court announced a decision that could expand the investigation when it responded favorably to a request by the prosecutor on the case to investigate links between Atabeyler and Ergenekon and requested the relevant documents from the İstanbul prosecutor on the Ergenekon case. If the documents sent by the İstanbul prosecutor prove the existence of such connections, the court may rule for further investigation.
Meanwhile the prosecutor in Ankara has also requested from Ziya Öz, an İstanbul prosecutor assigned to the Ergenekon case, documents that might hint at links between a group known as the Association for the Union of Patriotic Forces (VKGB) and Ergenekon and Atabeyler.
Last Mod: 18 Nisan 2008, 08:35