Turkey orders arrest of ‘Syria arms interception’ prosecutors

Four prosecutors were reassigned and then suspended after they ordered the search of several vehicles in Hatay and Adana

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A Turkish court has issued arrest warrants for four prosecutors and one military officer in a controversial case over the interception last year of trucks that allegedly contained arms bound for neighboring Syria, reports said Thursday.

The four prosecutors had been reassigned and then suspended after they ordered the search of several trucks and buses in the southern provinces of Hatay and Adana near the Syrian border in January 2014 on suspicions of smuggling “ammunition and arms” into Syria.

A series of documents had circulated on the Internet indicating that the seized trucks were actually National Intelligence Agency (MIT) vehicles delivering weapons to Syrian Islamist rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkey has vehemently denied aiding Islamist rebels in Syria, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, although it wants to see Assad toppled.

The government has imposed an all-out media blackout, including on Facebook and Twitter, prohibiting publication of the allegations.

The four prosecutors have been charged with seeking the overthrow of the government and to paralyze its operations. They face life imprisonment if convicted, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported.

Police detained two of the prosecutors, Suleyman Bagriyanik and Ozcan Sisman, on Wednesday in their houses in the cities of Antalya and in Adana.

They could not find a third attorney, Aziz Takci, at his address in northern city of Zonguldak but his lawyer said he would surrender. There were no details on the status of the fourth prosecutor, Ahmet Karaca.

“We witnessed a night when law went bankrupt and courtesy was turned upside down,” Bagriyanik, former chief prosecutor of Adana, said as he was detained by the police.

“No matter what, everyone will see the reality,” he added.

“I am being detained right now just because I did not listen to Mr Minister’s ‘Do not search trucks’ order and threats, and did not stop my colleagues from doing so. What more can I say?

“Laws are there. It is my job to implement the laws.”

The court in Tarsus in southern Turkey also upheld the demand of Turkey’s top body of judges and prosecutors HSYK for the arrest of colonel Ozkan Cokay because he was the highest-ranking commander in the region, according to Dogan.

The controversy erupted on January 19, 2014 when Turkish forces stopped trucks bound for Syria suspected to have been loaded with weapons. But they then found MIT personnel were on board.

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