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Turkey: Alleged Members of Revolutionary Headquarters Indicted on Terrorist Charges

(Mar. 3, 2011) It was reported on February 5, 2011, that Istanbul's 12th High Criminal Court has accepted an indictment against 22 persons suspected of being linked to the leftist terrorist organization the Revolutionary Headquarters (RH). The group reportedly carried out a deadly shootout in April 2009 in Istanbul that claimed the lives of a police officer and two civilians and wounded eight other persons. The trial is to commence on April 13. (Osman Arslan, Court Accepts Indictment on Avci-Linked Terror Group, TODAY'S ZAMAN (Feb. 5, 2011).)

One of the suspects, Hanefi Avci, the former police chief of Eskisehir Province, was arrested and imprisoned in late September 2010. The indictment charges Avci and 13 other imprisoned suspects with “membership in a terrorist organization,” as well with falsification of documents, possession of weapons and munitions, violation of the principle of confidentiality of an ongoing investigation, and the seizure of personal data. Prosecutors seek to obtain a prison sentence of 51 years for Avci and sentences of 7½ years to life for the suspects involved in the attack. They are also demanding a sentence of up to 12 years for Avci's wife, who is among the other suspects in the RH case who are not yet under arrest. (Id.)

The court has sent notices to the Interior Ministry, the Security General Directorate, the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), the General Staff, and the Gendarmerie General Command for the provision of information on the structure and activities of the RH. It has also asked the 9th High Criminal Court for a digital copy of the trial of RH members accused of the shootout with police in April 2009. The current indictment suggests that the RH is part of Ergenekon, “a clandestine criminal network charged with plotting to overthrow the government.” (Id.)

Avci wrote a book, entitled Halic'te Yasayan Simonlar Dün Devlet Bugün Cemaat [Simons in the Golden Horn: Yesterday the State, Today the Religious Community], that brought him notoriety. In it, he contends that the government's ongoing criminal investigations to tackle illegal activities in Turkey, including the Ergenekon probe, “lack evidence and are based on illegal wiretapping.” (Id.) Experts on criminal law, however, dismiss the work as biased, and it is said to be “well known that the telephone conversations of Ergenekon suspects were legitimately wiretapped by prosecutors overseeing the probe on court orders.” (Id.) According to the indictment, Avci, through his book – which describes his being wiretapped on a SIM card – violated the principle of confidentiality of an ongoing investigation, because RH members allegedly learned of the investigation into Ergenekon from the book. (Id.; Former Police Chief in Jail for Writing Book, TURKEYEMERGENCY.COM (last visited Mar. 1, 2011).)