Ankara’s 34th Heavy Penalty Court has been established, and the court will initially solely try the cases of suspects who were former employees of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT), according to local news reports on Wednesday.
The court was established by the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) earlier this year, and officially began receiving cases last month. Based on the caseload of other courts, it will be decided at a later date whether the court will try cases unrelated to MİT.
The court has yet to decide as to whether hearings will be open to the public, and a member of the court’s committee has said that some hearings could be closed to the public for security reasons.
There has been speculation that the court was founded for the purpose of trying cases concerning what has been described as the wing of the MİT composed of members of the followers of exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen, which the government calls the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ) and blames for the failed military coup that took place in July 2016.
Though Gülen and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were allies for years, the two camps became bitter enemies following a corruption probe in 2014 believed to be launched by Gülenist judges against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.
Followers of Gülen, with the help of Erdoğan the AKP government, are believed to have systematically worked their way into Turkey’s institutions, including the military, the police, and MİT. After the coup, more than 100,000 people were purged from their government jobs, many of whom were targeted on the basis of their alleged links to Gülen.