Former police chief and politician Mehmet Ağar has been sentenced to five years in prison on charges of establishing a criminal organization following a trial concerning a scandalous car accident in 1996 that exposed links between the Turkish state, the criminal underworld and Turkish security forces.
Ağar, who served as a police chief shortly before the incident, was standing trial for his role in an unlikely arrangement between a famous mafia boss, a member of the security forces and a politician. The prosecutor argued that Ağar had established an organization with the purpose of committing crimes.
The 11th High Criminal Court announced its ruling against Ağar on Thursday and handed the former police chief a five-year sentence, which was later reduced to three years, nine months. If his conviction is approved by the Supreme Court of Appeals, Ağar will spend three years and nine months in prison.
The Susurluk case is one of the major turning points in the history of Turkey. In 1996, Hüseyin Kocadağ, a former police chief, Sedat Bucak, a southeastern clan leader whose men were armed by the state to fight separatist violence, and Abdullah Çatlı, an internationally wanted mafia boss, were involved in an accident near the small township of Susurluk while riding in the same car. Kocadağ, Çatlı and his girlfriend, a former model, were all killed in the accident. No serious arrests followed from the ensuing investigation, which had actually exposed, for the first time in modern Turkish history, a gang with links to the state.
Retired Brig. Gen. Veli Küçük, who is currently in jail for suspected membership in a shadowy gang known as Ergenekon, was detained but then released in the Susurluk investigation. Küçük is not the only link between the Susurluk affair and Ergenekon, whose suspected leaders and members currently face charges of "membership in an armed terrorist group," "attempting to bring down the government," "inciting people to rebel against the Republic of Turkey" and other similar crimes.
In February 2008, charges were filed against Ağar for "establishing an armed organization for the purpose of committing crimes, failing to inform authorities of the whereabouts of a suspect, aiding and abetting, granting firearm licenses to Çatlı and Yaşar Öz in violation of the law, ensuring the granting of senior public servant passports to Çatlı and Öz in contravention of the law and dereliction of gubernatorial duty."
Ağar, who served as governor of Erzurum in 1992, was appointed by then-Prime Minister Tansu Çiller as head of the National Police Force in 1993. He was the interior minister of the Çiller-led coalition government in 1996 until he was forced to resign after the Susurluk scandal. Ağar was elected to Parliament in 2002, which granted him parliamentary immunity until July 22, 2007, when the party he led, the Democrat Party (DP), failed to pass the election threshold.
CihanGüncelleme Tarihi: 15 Eylül 2011, 16:01