Duvar English

A former lieutenant general was arrested on Jan. 16 on charges related to the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, two days after he was acquitted and released from prison.

Former Lt. Gen. Metin İyidil was handed aggravated life sentence in 2018 over “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order” in the case into the activities of the Land Forces Training and Doctrine Command (EDOK) commanders on the night of the July 15, 2016 failed coup attempt – widely believed to have been masterminded by Gülenists.

Over 250 people were killed and more than 2100 people were wounded on the night of the attempted takeover.

In a surprising development, he was acquitted and released on Jan. 14 after the Ankara Regional Court of Justice’s 20th Criminal Department revoked the previous court ruling issued by Ankara Second Heavy Penal Court upon İyidil’s appeal.

Following his acquittal, the Ankara Regional Court of Justice’s Office of the Chief Prosecutor, prompting the Ankara Regional Court of Justice’s 21st Criminal Department to issue an arrest warrant for İyidil on Jan. 15, citing the crime and the possibility of him fleeing.

He was detained early on Jan. 16 in the capital Ankara and was arrested later in the day.

“All of my activities on the night of the coup were aimed at preventing the coup,” İyidil told the court on Jan. 16, adding that he served the state for 44 years.

The court, in return, said that judicial control won’t be enough in the case and ruled for the former general’s arrest.

Probe launched into court board

Also on Jan. 16, the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) launched an investigation into the Ankara Regional Court of Justice’s 20th Criminal Department board over acquitting and releasing İyidil.

They were appointed to three different provinces later in the day over “acting against their duties.”

Three detained for aiding İyidil

Meanwhile, three people were detained on Jan. 16 over attempting to help İyidil escape.

Those detained include Batuhan Özdemir, his wife Aslı Özdemir and the former general’s lawyer Abdullah Kaya.

Batuhan Özdemir is the son of Turkish Football Federation (TFF) Chair Nihat Özdemir, who is also the head of Turkish Conglomerate Limak Holding – a company known for its close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

At the same time, İyidil is the brother-in-law of Nihat Özdemir, who was hosted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Jan. 14 as part of his meeting with Clubs Association Foundation.

The former general was detained in a house belonging to a relative of Özdemir.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (R) shakes hands with TFF Chair Nihat Özdemir.