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Appeals court refuses to send Cihaner case to relevant chamber

25 March 2012, Sunday /METIN ARSLAN
The 11th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals, which recently accepted an indictment accusing former Prosecutor İlhan Cihaner of establishing and running a terrorist organization, has decided not to send the case to another chamber which hears terror-related cases.

The 11th Criminal Chamber recently made critical decisions in the case, which mentions 14 suspects, including Republican People's Party (CHP) Denizli deputy Cihaner and former 3rd Army Commander retired Gen. Saldıray Berk.

The chamber, which was expected to forward the case to the 9th Criminal Chamber as the latter is authorized to hear terror-related cases, refused to do so, saying it also has the authority to hear the case on the grounds that in addition to being charged with membership in the Ergenekon terrorist organization, the suspects face charges of forgery of official documents, issuing threats, and illegally storing personal data. According to the law regulating division of labor at the Supreme Court of Appeals, the 11th Criminal Chamber hears cases related to forgery in official documents while the 9th Criminal Chamber hears terrorism-related cases.

Cihaner will stand trial at the Supreme Court of Appeals due to a decision by the high court in 2010 to try him at the Supreme Court of Appeals as his alleged crimes were committed when he was on active duty.

Although Cihaner is still a deputy and holds parliamentary immunity, his immunity does not apply when it comes to terrorism-related charges. The 11th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals will now set a date for the first hearing in the trial of Cihaner and Berk.

The indictment accuses Cihaner of working to put into operation the “Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism” in Erzincan.

The action plan details a military plan to destroy the image of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Gülen movement in the eyes of the public, to play down the Ergenekon investigation and to gather support for members of the military arrested as part of the investigation into Ergenekon. Ergenekon is a clandestine organization nested within the state and bureaucracy with the ulterior motive of fomenting chaos in society to allow for a military takeover.

The plot mentions a subversive plan to plant ammunition and weapons in the houses of some religious communities. The munitions would later be found during a police search, and residents of those places would be accused of involvement in terrorism. Cihaner is also accused of falsification of documents and membership in a criminal organization.

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