Syria-bound trucks operated by MİT were searched in January 2014 after prosecutors received tip-offs that they are illegally carrying arms to Syria. (Photo: DHA)
A pro-government prosecutor who was appointed to the case regarding the alleged transport of weapons and munitions to Syria via trucks belonging to Turkish intelligence filed for a verdict of non-prosecution regarding the case and admitted that weapon-laden trucks made 2,000 trips to Syria, according to the lawyer of one of the defendants of the case.
Lawyer Hasan Tok, the legal counsel for former Adana Provincial Gendarmerie Regiment Commander Col. Özkan Çokay, who was at the scene when trucks belonging to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) were searched in January 2014, said that Prosecutor Ali Doğan stated in court that trucks owned by MİT made at least 2,000 trips to Syria.
Doğan is a known government loyalist and filed for a verdict of non-prosecution regarding the investigation into the trucks after he was appointed to the position of Adana chief public prosecutor. According to Tok, Doğan had asked the defendants in a previous hearing, “2,000 trucks have passed [into Syria] why was this one specially chosen?”
“We didn’t know there had been 2,000 trucks passing into Syria, may God bless Ali Doğan,” said Tok.
Ali Doğan’s reference to 2,000 trucks echoes an alleged statement by MİT head Hakan Fidan in which he said he “sent around 2,000 trucks [with] equipment” to Syria after General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler complained that the region needed arms and ammunition to be saved. A voice recording was published online in March 2014 of a top-secret conversation between then-Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu, Fidan and Güler, revealing Turkey’s clandestine effort to aid certain groups in Syria.
Prosecutor Takçı: someone had sworn an oath to get us convicted
Aziz Takçı, one of the four prosecutors involved in an investigation of trucks belonging to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) that were allegedly carrying weapons to radical groups in Syria, said in his defense statement to the Tarsus Second High Criminal court regarding the investigation of the MİT trucks, “Someone [in the government] had already sworn an oath to convict us [prosecutors investigating the MİT trucks]. We also know that some people [within the government] were pressuring the HSYK [Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors], saying, ‘Why aren’t the detentions [of prosecutors] happening sooner?’” said Takçı in his statement to the court, according to GriHat news portal.
Turkey has wanted Syrian President Bashar al-Assad removed from power ever since an uprising that started at the end of 2011 turned into a fully-fledged civil war in the neighboring country. Assad is a member of the Nusayri (Alawite) sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, whose members are a minority in both Syria and Turkey.
Prosecutor: trucks were full to the brim with weapons
Describing the events that unfolded on Jan. 19, 2014, when trucks later found to belong to MİT were stopped in the Ceyhan district of Turkey’s southern Adana province en route to Syria, Takçı said: “When I went to the scene there were two trucks. A few stubbly bearded men, claiming to be MİT operatives, were shouting, swearing. As I had gone to the scene of the search, I had to look at what was there. [The trucks] were full to the brim with weapons…155mm [howitzer] shells, anti-aircraft munitions; I also saw munitions of different types and sizes.”
“I told the gendarmerie [present at the scene] to record these items, what else can a prosecutor do? Then out of nowhere, the chief public prosecutor of Adana, the chief police officer, and Governor Hüseyin Avni Coş [all] came to the scene with 400-500 riot police. The governor told me that Prime Minister [current President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan had called him and had said, ‘These trucks belong to MİT, we sent the weapons and ammunition. The prosecutor must leave the trucks, we are going to lay the [necessary] legal framework,’ several times,” said Takçı.
“In the meanwhile, Hüseyin Avni Coş was saying that he was going to obstruct this [investigation] even if it would mean his death. I told him, Mr. Governor, you don’t need to say such things. The state has laws. No one needs to die, if [as you say] the Prime Minister [Erdoğan] has called. Then I asked him to present me a [official] document with only a few sentences, which I could sign, and told him repeatedly that if the individuals who claimed they were MİT operatives gave their IDs, they could be released,” said Takçı.
Takçı said that after he had the license plate of the vehicle carrying the people claiming to be MİT operatives checked, he found that it belonged to suspects known to have affiliations with al-Qaeda. “Al-Qaeda is recognized as a terrorist organization by the Supreme Court of Appeals. It [Al-Qaeda] is on the ministerial cabinet list and the world’s list [of recognized terrorist organizations],” he said.
MİT agent double-crossed Syrian colonel, while I’m being charged for espionage
Takçı also said in his statement to the court that MİT operative Önder Sığırcıklıoğlu, who sold out a Syrian colonel who had defected to the Free Syrian Army from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) controlled by Assad for $100,000, was absolved of espionage charges while he was being charged with espionage for investigating the trucks.
Three MİT officials, including Sığırcıklıoğlu, were arrested in 2012 for allegedly abducting Col. Hussein Harmush, one of the most senior Syrian military officers to have defected to the opposition Free Syrian Army, from a Turkish refugee camp in the southern province of Hatay near the Syrian border and handing him to pro-Assad forces in Syria for $100,000.
As the Adana Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office had formally charged five suspects, one of whom was a MİT regional official, for their supposed role in handing over Harmush to Syrian security forces, it appeared that MİT was deeply involved in the abduction. The suspects were sent to prison, where they face charges of political espionage.
Takçı: you don’t have to be a prosecutor to know that the case can be linked to terrorism
Stating that there is no need for suspicion and that only a shred of doubt is enough for public prosecutors to act, Takçı said: “They [prosecutors] are asking me why I took [members of] the law enforcement agency with me. Who am I supposed to undertake the investigation with as a public prosecutor? Of course, with members of the law enforcement agency. Moreover there is talk of a truck full of weapons.”
“Who can carry a truckload of weapons? You don’t have to be a public prosecutor to know that such a crime is being has the suspicion of being [affiliated to] terrorism,” he said.
Even if undersecretary to MİT had come, he’d have to prove his link to trucks
Pointing out that, after he had ordered the trucks to be stopped and searched, another vehicle carrying individuals claiming to be MİT agents came to the scene, Takçı stated that the newly arrived operatives started to argue with gendarmerie personnel at the scene, demanding the search be stopped, even using curses insulting Takçı’s mother. Takçı said, “I wanted to see their identification, but they refused, so I told [the gendarmes] to keep them under control while the search was going on.”
Admitting that one of the operatives had later complied with his request to show identification, Takçı emphasized: “The people in civilian vehicle, which came later, these weren’t the people in the trucks. I have to be frank: Even if the undersecretary of MİT had come, he would have had to make his connection to the trucks very clear.”
Takçı: Drug smugglers are convicted, while weapons smugglers are to be released
Even if the trucks were proven to belong to MİT, as the prosecutor, he would have had to collect any evidence before it was lost, Takçı explained, adding: “A MİT operative was caught in Van [province] with a substantial amount of drugs on his person, no one said to him, ‘Oh, you’re a MİT agent, [sorry].’ The evidence was put forward, and he was detained, arrested and later convicted… Those who are caught smuggling 50 kilograms of drugs are to be convicted, while those who are caught smuggling three trucks worth of weapons are to be let go? What a country to live in!
Takçı: Legal decisions influenced by ruling party are most dishonorable
“Is this [government] always going to remain? Is there always going to be this ruling party? In the future, the political landscape will change and another party will come [into power],” he remarked, continuing: “The [new] ruling administration will come and say to me: ‘Why did you not see these pieces of evidence? Why did you allow this car to leave? Come and account for your actions.’ Are we to change our decisions based on the political party in power right now? I consider this to be dishonorable. If a judge or a prosecutor renders a decision according to the [views of the] current political party, then that person is the most base, most parasitical, most dishonorable person there is, as I would be, if I had let my actions be influenced by the party in power.”
Prosecutor Karaca: Site where weapons were dropped now an ISIL base
Another of the four prosecutors involved in the investigation, and currently under arrest, Ahmet Karaca, said in his defense statement that, before the investigation into the trucks belonging to MİT had begun, an investigation into rocket warheads found in the province of Adana was already underway, adding: “The driver of [one of] the trucks said, ‘I’ve taken 2 loads like this before. I deposited them at the same spot,’ and the place he indicated, close to the Turkish-Syrian border, is, unfortunately the place where the terrorist organization [the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL)] now holds camp.”
A total of 935 rocket warheads, manufactured in Adana and Konya provinces, had been seized from a truck in the southern province, then-Governor of Adana Hüseyin Avni Coş told media in 2013.
Pointing out that 85 citizens had lost their lives in terrorist attacks between 2012 and 2013, and that the investigation into the trucks is now open to the public, Karaca stated, “Those trucks were full to the brim with weapons.” He expressed his grief at being persecuted for simply performing his duty, stating: “If you find one piece of evidence linking me to crime, I’m willing to serve time without even the need to submit a defense. Send me [to jail] and I’ll go without blinking an eye.”