The government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan secretly launched an investigation to build a case for a purge in Turkey’s military as early as 2014 and enlisted the help of unsavory characters who were dishonorably discharged from the military for sexual misconduct.
According to secret documents obtained by Nordic Monitor, a number of former officers who were dismissed from the military in recent years for sexual misconduct were called in to give a statement by a prosecutor who is known for doing the dirty bidding of the Erdoğan government. In exchange for filing criminal complaints against critics of Erdoğan and pro-NATO officers, Ankara prosecutor Serdar Coşkun help pave the way for the disgraced officers to return to duty.
Statements full of unsubstantiated claims obtained by the prosecutor and police a year before a failed coup on July 15, 2016 were later used to justify a massive purge in the Turkish military that crippled NATO’s second largest army with half the generals removed and/or jailed and thousands of officers dismissed. On December 18, 2015 prosecutor Coşkun gave the police the names of six people who were dismissed from the military in past years and ordered the police to take their statements.
The order, classified as secret, was part of investigation case file No. 2014/37666, which means the witch hunt targeting pro-NATO officers in the military was initiated in 2014, long before the false flag coup attempt took place two years later.
Ankara prosecutor Serdar Coşkun’s order is posted below:Serdar_Coskun_military
In at least two cases among the documents reviewed by Nordic Monitor, officers who were discharged were involved in sexual misconduct according to a long trail of paperwork that showed thorough investigations were conducted before the decision for their dismissal was made by the authorities. Their discharge appears to have been well justified within the military code of conduct and service regulations. Yet, years later, the government appeared to tap these cases in an attempt to explain the massive purge, which is politically motivated and has nothing to do with battling terrorism or coup plots.
For example, in one case 36-year-old Serkan Sönmez, a first lieutenant in the Air Force, was dismissed from the service on July 11, 2012 after an Air Force commission found that serious sexual misconduct allegations about him were credible and sufficient to warrant discharging him. The recommendation actually followed a signed deposition to investigators in October 2010 that showed his own admission to many of the charges leveled against him. As a result, a career that began with a rocky start in 2005 when he failed flight requirements to become a pilot and was transferred to the infantry security division was short lived. He was serving in the Special Guard Unit in Ankara when he was discharged.
The Air Force Command approved the inquiry commission’s dismissal recommendation on the same day, referring the case to the General Staff, which also confirmed the dismissal on September 21, 2012. He was allowed to retain his pension and benefits and was considered to have retired with decision No. 2012/175, issued on October 23, 2012 by then Minister of Defense Ismet Yilmaz. The dismissal was approved at the highest level of government by both then-President Abdullah Gül and then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
According to the 21-point intelligence document that detailed the allegations against Sönmez on May 11, 2012, he had faced serious charges. The document described him as a womanizer and drug user who had engaged in sex with multiple partners, both married and single, including prostitutes, in Kütahya province. In the company of his friends he often bragged about how many women he had slept with. He was alleged to have recorded his sexual encounters with women and at one time showed one of the videos on his cell phone to his friends at a bar. He was accused of bringing his personal laptop to a military base and connecting to the Internet there without authorization in a clear violation of secure communication protocols in the military.
The review of his email traffic by the Air Force Intelligence Service’s email control section showed him exchanging pornographic material, using foul language with respect to the Turkish military and trading erotic messages with women. His psychological profile suggested he had anger management issues and at one time even launched a physical attack on a driver with whom he had a quarrel. He was accused of beating privates at the base on several occasions. In 2010 one of women he had a relationship with filed a complaint with the police department accusing him of beating, threatening and insulting her. In the end, investigators concluded that he was an officer who was not fit to serve in the Air Force.
His own incriminating testimony along with other evidence in the case file including witness statements from his colleagues was enough for the Air Force Command to recommend his dismissal, which was approved within the chain of command and the government.
His lawyer challenged the dismissal decision in a motion filed with the High Military Administrative Court in Ankara on April 26, 2013. After hearing arguments from both sides, the panel of five judges — Colonels Celal Işıklar, Fikret Eres, Turgay Akgül, Salih Buçukoğlu and Cemil Çelik – who had overseen the proceedings, unanimously ruled on December 3, 2013 that there was no merit in the plaintiff’s challenge to the dismissal decision and rejected the motion to overturn the earlier decision of dismissal. Sönmez’s lawyer appealed this decision on January 23, 2014, asking for a reversal of the court’s judgement. Yet, again the High Military Administrative Court ruled to reject the appeal on April 9, 2014, stating that it did not see any reason to reverse its earlier decision.
When Erdoğan decided to launch a massive purge in the Turkish military, which he saw as a major impediment to his project of building a new Turkey in his own image, his government tapped this womanizer who was thrown out of the service and had a job as a workplace safety expert in the private sector. The prosecutor asked the police to find him and get a statement in order to build a case against many officers with integrity and a stellar record in their careers. Sönmez’s statement was taken by the counterterrorism unit of the Ankara Police Department on October 25, 2015 during which he leveled unsubstantiated accusations against the military.
He claimed that there was no grounds for his dismissal and that no administrative investigation was conducted in his case, which was not true given the long paper trail and decision by the High Military Administrative Court, which rejected his appeals. Yet Erdoğan’s prosecutors included his statements in the coup trials despite the fact that Sönmez had testified in 2015. The judges who rejected his appeals to return to the military were punished as well. Three judges — Col. Çelik, Col. Buçukoğlu and Col. Akgül — were not only dismissed but also jailed in 2016. They were all charged with membership in a terrorist group and alleged links to the Gulen Movement, a civic group that is highly critical of the Erdoğan government. Their trial is still ongoing, and no evidence to support the charges against them has been presented at the hearings.
The full intelligence document (with the names of third parties redacted), which lists a number of serious allegations against Sönmez is posted below:Serkan_Sönmez
In the second case reviewed by Nordic Monitor, Turkish prosecutors enlisted the help of a convicted felon who had been discharged from the military in order to support a false case against a number of officers. His name is Murat Mocan, a 49-year-old lieutenant colonel who was convicted on charges of invasion of privacy by the court when he was caught in an attempt to secretly film under a teenager’s skirt in the subway in Turkey’s western province of Izmir. The incident took place on November 22, 2012 at around 17.00, when Mocan turned on his cell phone video recording function to film a high school student, identified only by the initials S.K., who was sitting across from him. A man sitting next to the girl noticed the attempt, started shouting at him, grabbed his phone and turned it over to the police at the next stop when they disembarked. Another man on the same train also helped.
The Izmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into the claims on November 27, 2012. An examination of his phone revealed he had other videos taken under women’s skirts but not the victim who was sitting across from him on the subway. The Izmir 11th Court of First Instance ruled on December 6, 2013 that the suspect attempted to film her but failed to do so after the intervention of the two other men in the subway. He was acquitted of charges of sexual harassment because he was interrupted before he had a chance to film but convicted of invasion of privacy.
The victim testified in court that she was alerted when a man sitting next to her shouted at the suspect. She noticed that the suspect had two mobile phones, one in plain sight and the other concealed under his jacket. She said she noticed that the phone had a camera light on and that the suspect did not want to turn over his phone after the two men asked him to do so. Her mother also filed a complaint against Mocan. The court proceedings also revealed that Mocan had a record from 2009, when he was convicted by the Eskisehir 5th Court of First Instance.
After the conviction, the High Disciplinary Board of the Turkish Armed Forces initiated discharge procedures for Col. Mocan, and he was dismissed. He is now working as a flight instructor. On November 28, 2014 this sexual predator was summoned by prosecutor Coşkun to testify against the Gülen movement, and his testimony was incorporated into a false case launched against the movement.
The court document showing the conviction of Col. Mocan is posted above. (The identities of the victim and her mother as well as Mocan’s ID number have been redacted.)
There are more examples similar to these in the secret files that suggest Erdoğan and his associates in the judiciary have been using highly controversial figures to build sham cases against government critics and help transform NATO’s second largest army into a bastion of Islamists and neo-nationalists. This is what is happening behind the doors of courthouses in Turkey where the rule of law has effectively been suspended and the judiciary has lost its independence and has become a subordinate of Erdoğan.