Turkish police arrested four prosecutors and a former gendarmerie commander on May 7 for allegedly spying and intercepting aid trucks belonging to the National Intelligence Agency (MIT), in Turkey’s southern province of Mersin.
The Second Heavy Penal Court of Tarsus issued arrest warrants on May 6 for former provincial gendarmerie commander Ozkan Cokay, former chief public prosecutor Suleyman Bagriyanik, and prosecutors Ozcan Sisman, Aziz Takci and Ahmet Karaca.
Local gendarmerie stopped the MIT trucks in January 2014 in Turkey’s southern provinces of Adana and Hatay with the intention of searching for ammunition, violating a national security law which is forbids such a search.
The trucks, which were allegedly carrying ammunition into northern Syria, were conveying humanitarian aid to the Turkmen community in the war-torn country, the Turkish Interior Ministry has said.
The four prosecutors ordering the search of the MIT trucks were removed from their posts pending an inquiry following the incident. Suspects are being accused of “attempting to overthrow the government of the Turkish Republic by use of force and violence.”
The arrests were made late on Thursday, while Bagriyanik was arrested on Wednesday night.
The Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) is in charge of conducting the investigation.
Indictment calls for aggravated life imprisonment for the suspects.
The interception of the trucks took place at a time when an attempted judicial coup was allegedly carried out against the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) between December 17-25 by followers of the Gulen Movement, led by US-based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen.
The suspects accused of involvement in the interruption of the MIT aid trucks are also accused of being members of the Gulen Movement.
Members of the movement are accused of infiltrating state institutions including the judiciary, police force and bureaucracy, and forming an inner circle inside the government labeled as the “parallel state.”
Seventeen military personnel were arrested in April for involvement in the incidents.
The Adana Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, which filed the case, had said, “information that should have been secret was revealed and attained with the intent of political and military spying.”
The lawyers of the suspects had demanded the gendarmerie be tried by a military court. However, the Supreme Military Court of Appeals refused the case, saying “since the incident took place when the gendarmes were under judicial jurisdiction, the case must be tried in a civilian court.”