COMMENTARY – AHMET DÖNMEZ
Another written set of instructions issued by Serdar Coşkun, former Public Prosecutor for Anti-Constitutional Crimes Investigation Bureau has surfaced recently. Coşkun has been in the limelight due to registering the leading official report in the night of July 15, 2016. It is as controversial as that official report itself.
A couple of hours after the coup attempt, Coşkun had written official letters to the chief public prosecutors in all provinces and to the General Directorate of the Police; he sent the letters in the early hours on July 16 to issue the ’instructions’ for arresting thousands of judges and prosecutors. Serdar Coşkun’s instructions included expressions like, “contact all provinces to immediately detain all judges and prosecutors mentioned in the list” and “ensure that detained judges and prosecutors are arrested”. Having discovered the perpetrator (!) already even with the coup attempt still ongoing, Coşkun had proclaimed the judges and prosecutors mentioned in the list as perpetrators indiscriminately. Exercising a virtual tutelage on the courts of law, he had ordered the “arrest of all judges and prosecutors”. Another significant feature of this official letter – which is included in the case files of all arrested judges and prosecutors – is an accompanying profiling document, which Coskun had forgotten to remove.
The following is the complete text of the official letter:
“Having revealed that the crime of attempting for toppling the government and abolishing the constitutional order by force is being committed across Turkey and that it is highly possible that the members of the Fethullahist terrorist organization which is perpetrating this crime may flee and hide abroad, the list of the judges and prosecutors who are the members of the Fethullahist terrorist organization across Turkey is enclosed herewith.
It is hereby requested:
1- to contact all provinces and immediately detain all judges and prosecutors mentioned in the list,
2- to conduct search operations in their residences, offices and vehicles in line with the Article 116 of the Code of Criminal Procedures and to seize any criminal element in line with the Article 327 of the Code of Criminal Procedures,
3- to conduct detained judges and prosecutors to the offices of the respective Chief Public Prosecutors and ensure the arrest of the detained in line with the Articled 309/2 of the Turkish Penal Code,
4- in case any digital materials are found during search procedures, to conduct required inspections by having inspection warrants issued from the respective Peace Courts of Criminal Jurisdiction in coordination with the respective Chief Public Prosecutors according to the Article 314 of the Code of Criminal Procedures,
5- to immediately constrain the international travel of those mentioned in list, considering the extreme prospect of their evasion abroad,
6- to conclude the investigations and inform about the results of the investigation procedure about the judges and procedures who are the members of this structure across Turkey. 16.07.2016”
Definitely, this document overlaps with the report under our discussion. Let me tell you, step by step, why:
1- The report signed by Serdar Coşkun was dated July 16, 2016 1:00 am. That is, it was officially written at that time.
2- The incidents that had not taken place until then had been recorded in the report as if they had already happened. Moreover, the incidents which had not taken place in that night and will never take place later were recorded as if they had already happened.
3- Prosecutor Serdar Coşkun defended himself thus: “Yes, I had started writing the report at 1:00 am, but I had finished it at 7:00 am. I had written the starting time and I had not written the ending time.”
4- In addition, Serdar Coşkun had explained that the report had constituted the justification for the first instructions on detentions and investigations in the morning of July 16.
5- In my reporting and commentary, I too had defended the view that preparation of that official report in that manner could not be justified in any case and writing of that report would be considered as ended at whatever time mentioned on it.
6- Moreover, I had also claimed – based on a statement made by the Deputy President of the Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors Mehmet Yılmaz – that it is highly likely that the report had actually been ready by 1:00 am on July 16, because Yılmaz had revealed that they had dismissed 2740 judges and prosecutors on July 16 at 1:00 am. A wide-scale administrative act of that sort must have been based on a sound justification. I hold the view that the official report signed by Coşkun had been that very justification.
7- In the official report, it is claimed that the coup attempt had been perpetrated by Fethullah Gülen and his Community. However, as of those hours, not only had the prosecutor not had any means to render such a concrete and legal determination, he also did not present any evidence later to prove his ‘conclusion’. That is, he did not show any evidence which soundly establishes his legal resolve made in the morning of July 16 determining Gülen and his Community as the perpetrators of the coup. Therefore, that ‘determination’ remained as an assessment, a view or a claim. Yet, prosecutors have no authority for recording their views or assessments in official records as absolute or conclusive presumptions. There is no such legal proceeding too. That is, the official report had been prepared because of a need.
8- In the letter sent by Serdar Coşkun to the chief public prosecutors and the General Directorate of the Police, it is stated that, “the list of the judges and prosecutors who are the members of the Fethullahist terrorist organization across Turkey is enclosed herewith”. It is not certain on which grounds such a list had been prepared as of those hours. Furthermore, the manner prosecutor – instead of stating “the judges and prosecutors who are claimed to be the members of the Fethullahist terrorist organization,” – had passed a final verdict without any trial or legal decision transforms the letter from a ‘legal document’ into a report by an informer.
9- Such a ‘decretive’ was added into the official report, because a statement of that sort was necessary to facilitate moving beyond putschist soldiers to committing an extensive purge including thousands of people. As a matter of fact, that is why the controlled coup had been perpetrated. That is why it had been termed as “Allah’s gift”. It would not mean anything else, then! Given the involvement of only 1.5 percent of the entire Turkish Armed Forces – private soldiers, cadets and junior military officers most of whom did not know anything about the coup, 300 to 500 people would be arrested all in all due to that insurrection. Yet, according to the Ministry of Interior Affairs, they could detain more than 500,000 people until now. Tens of thousands of the detained have been incarcerated. 150,000 state officials could be dismissed without a single question.
10- Thus, the official letter dispatched by Serdar Coşkun to the General Directorate of the Police and chief public prosecutors across the country complements this framework, because the letter states that the coup had been perpetrated by the (Gülen) Community. It is presented as the justification for demanding the arrest of all listed judges and prosecutors.
Now, let’s fast rewind to the morning of July 16. At the legal institution of judges and prosecutors, which was formerly titled as the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), an extraordinary meeting had been at 9:00 a.m to discuss “the imposition of the most substantial disciplinary measures on the FETO-member judges and prosecutors”. That had been stated as the purpose of the meeting.
The funny part is that, before the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors meeting, the arrest warrants for five Council members had already been issued.
The erstwhile Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor for Constitutional Order Necip İşçimen had stated on the Haberturk TV live broadcast at 9:50 am, “Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for the putschist FETO-affiliated members of the Court of Cassation, the Council of State, the Military Administrative Court and the Chief Justice of Military Court of Cassation, in addition to the FETOist members of the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors and the FETO-affiliated generals, admirals, ranked military officers, junior military officers, non-commissioned military officers and private soldiers in the so-called Peace at Home Committee.”
As of those hours, Akıncı Air Base had not been bombed and neutralized. The putschists in the General HQ had still not started laying down their arms. Yet, the Chief Public Prosecutor in Ankara had already made up his mind. Judges and prosecutors had been equated with the putschist Peace at Home Council, about which members and formation no one had had an idea as of those hours. The tutored judiciary had followed the syllogistic logic: “The Community perpetrated the coup. These judges and prosecutors are from the Community. Hence, they too are putschists.”
On the same day, at 3 pm, Anatolian News Agency wired the outcome of the extraordinary meeting held by the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors to its subscribers. According to the news, a total of 2745 judges had been dismissed. Let the hours do not mislead you. Speaking to the pro-government journalist Murat Kelkitlioğlu, the Deputy President of the Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors Mehmet Yılmaz had said, “In the midnight between July 15 and 16, at 1:00 am, we dismissed 2740 judges and prosecutors.” Therefore, those 2740 judges and prosecutors are the 2745 judges and prosecutors mentioned in the news. Mehmet Yılmaz had quoted the total number of the dismissed by 5 judges/prosecutors less, that’s all.
So, if that process had taken place at 1:00 am, what had the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors discussed at 9:00 am?
That was merely a meeting for finding a way to make their illegitimate act look legitimate.
This answers how the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors could deliberate on each of the 2745 judges and prosecutors in that morning within a couple of hours.
It is because the decisions for dismissal had already been taken. That meeting had only served as the formal fulfilment of the task. That’s why, before the meeting, 5 members of the Council had already been detained.
Moreover, the Chief Justice of the Council of State Zerrin Güngör had summoned all members of the Council of State for a meeting in the morning of July 16, 2016. During the meeting held in the General Assembly hall, a police squad arrived, read out the names of 10 members of the Council, and arrested them on the spot. Meanwhile, arrest warrants had been issued for 140 members of the Court of Cassation.
Right after the decision announced by the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors, the Office of Chief Public Prosecutor in Ankara issued the orders for the arrest of 2745 judges and prosecutors. By 5:00 pm and onwards, the police had started to raid the houses of the listed members of the judiciary.
Consequently, the Republic of Turkey had come to proclaim approximately 3000 members of its judiciary as ‘terrorists’. That is, the State had announced to the Nation that one fifth of the entire judiciary in Turkey had been formed by terrorists until then.
The letter had been sent to the offices of the chief public prosecutors and the General Directorate of the Police as is. Similarly, it had thus been included in the case files. It is still not certain on which grounds that list had been issued in that morning and by which evidence had those names been prosecuted for attempting a coup.
Another significant aspect of Serdar Coşkun’s official document relates to this.
The official ‘arrest warrant’ document is included in almost every accused judge’s and prosecutor’s case file. I have the copies of this official document taken from two case files; one is from Ankara and the other is from Gaziantep. However, quite interestingly, in the documents within the case files, under the official letter signed by Coşkun, you may notice another document… and that it is a profiling document. As you may see in the picture above, on that partially-visible sheet under the official letter, there is a heading that reads, ‘Name and surname of his/her spouse and the duty of his/her spouse’. That sheet is the notorious judge-prosecutor profiling list included in several other case files. The full names and workplaces of judges’ and prosecutors’ spouses had been profiled in that list. It is obvious that while Serdar Coşkun had been in a hurry for sending that official letter to the chief public prosecutors and the General Directorate of the Police, he also had spread the profiling files on his desk. The presence of another document under the official letter leads to the suspicion that the prosecutor had taken photos by his cellphone and sent the documents through WhatsApp. Speaking to pro-government journalist Nedim Şener, prosecutor Serdar Coşkun had said that they had deactivated the UYAP (National Judiciary Informatics System) in the night of July 15 and had sent the first orders manually. It is obvious that practice had led the prosecutor to meet such ‘small’ accidents.
The cited profiling document is there in the case file due to which 99 judges, prosecutors and members of high judiciary had been arrested in Gaziantep. Province by province and district by district, all judges and prosecutors had been profiled along with their spouses. It is a list of 2204 people. The heading reads, ‘Name and Surname of His/Her Spouse and the Spouse’s Duty’. Therefore, those lists had been strewn on Serdar Coşkun’s desk in that night. After typing the arrest warrants, he had placed the documents on one of those lists, taken photos and sent them to the General Directorate of the Police.
That profiling document is included as is in the case file by which the judges and prosecutors in Gaziantep have been on trial. Similar lists had been prepared for all provinces across the country.
It is very obvious that those lists had been prepared very earlier. Mustafa Şentop, AKP’s Vice Chairman at that time, had stated, “4000 ‘parallel’ judge should be dismissed from duty” after the elections held in the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors. Metin Yandırmaz, the Deputy President of the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors at that time, had said in March 2016, “We discovered 5000 parallelists in the judiciary”.
It is not stated how they had discovered them. However, it is now realized that they had proclaimed all who had not voted for the Platform for Unity in Judiciary – which ran under the tutelage of the Presidential Palace – in the Supreme Council of Judges and Prosecutors elections as ‘parallelists’. Otherwise, they had acted in accordance with the profiling lists directly sent from the National Intelligence Organization MİT.
Those lists had been ready in one way or another. However, they had had no justification for the purges. Additionally, according to the law, judges could be dismissed only if they were caught on commission of a profoundly criminal offense. July 15 had presented the list-operatives an exquisite justification which could not be opposed by anyone. Thanks to that ‘justification’, the intelligence reports and profiling lists which had been prepared long before the coup could immediately be executed.
In addition, it is worth noting that the official letter signed by Serdar Coşkun lacks an investigation number. It is apparent that this too had been prepared in a hurry, similar to the official report.