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In the Land of a NATO Member State

Syria-bound trucks operated by MİT were searched in January 2014 after prosecutors received tip-offs that they are illegally carrying arms to Syria

In the land of a NATO member state, the patriot ones are arrested so the criminals can continue their crimes.

An Istanbul court arrested seven members of the military, including high-ranking officers, out of 10 officers who were referred to court on Sunday as part of an ongoing investigation into the January 2014 interception of Syria-bound trucks belonging to the National Intelligence Organization (MİT).

Syria-bound trucks operated by MİT were searched in January 2014 after prosecutors received tip-offs that they are illegally carrying arms to Syria
Syria-bound trucks operated by MİT were searched in January 2014 after prosecutors received tip-offs that they are illegally carrying arms to Syria

The officers, who work at the Gendarmerie Criminal Laboratories in İstanbul and Ankara, were allegedly involved in examining samples of mortars and ammunition that were seized in trucks carrying arms to opposition groups in Syria.

The government-backed operation sought to bring an end to the original 2014 investigation that was later derailed by the government when the lead prosecutors were taken off the case. That followed the arrest of members of the judiciary, police, and military who were involved in the interception and investigation of arms and munitions.

Sunday’s arrests signal the escalation of government efforts to punish those who allegedly exposed the government’s illegal arms transfer to radical groups in Syria.

Bülent Tezcan, the deputy chairman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), submitted a motion in Parliament last year, asking the government whether a mortar shell that was fired from Syria and landed in a residential area of the southeastern Turkish town of Akçakale on Oct. 3, 2012, killing a woman and four children from the same family, was from the same batch that was seized from the trucks in January 2014.

He asked whether the Gendarmerie Criminal Laboratory ran an analysis on samples that were found in the seized trucks.

It was previously reported that the original prosecutors who investigated the trucks sent samples to the Gendarmerie criminal lab in Ankara.

In January 2014, a number of trucks, which were found to belong to MİT, were stopped by gendarmes in two separate incidents in the southern provinces of Hatay and Adana, after prosecutors received tip-offs that they were carrying arms to Syria.

So far 54 people, including four prosecutors, senior police chiefs, and high-ranking military officers, were arrested on charges of espionage, revealing state secrets and attempting to topple the government.

The government officially denied that the trucks were carrying arms. Instead, it claimed the cargo load was humanitarian aid. However, video footage, still pictures and the prosecutors’ own eyewitness accounts all confirmed that the cargo consisted of heavy arms and ammunition.

In the meantime, Aziz Takçı, one of the prosecutors arrested in connection with the interception of the trucks, said in a statement issued by his lawyer Alp Değer Tanrıverdi on Monday that Yasin Aktay, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy chairman responsible for foreign affairs, should be investigated on charges of espionage because he admitted that the trucks were carrying arms to the anti-government Free Syrian Army (FSA).

Stressing that all government officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, claimed that the cargo was destined to Turkmens living in Syria, Takçı said Aktay’s acknowledgement of arms being transported to the FSA was the first public admission by a senior official on arms transfer to opposition groups in Syria.

Aktay is heard in a video saying the MİT trucks were going to the FSA. The short video, posted on Saturday on the Oda TV website, shows Aktay arguing with a man who apparently criticized the government for supporting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

“He should be questioned about where he obtained this information and arrested following an investigation over whether he engaged in espionage,” Takçı said, adding, “Otherwise, we should immediately be released and the investigation concerning us ended.”

In the video, which Oda TV said was recorded in the southeastern province of Siirt, Aktay said, “They [arms] were going to the FSA.”

Özcan Şişman, another of the prosecutors involved in the MİT trucks investigation, said in a statement that those who thought they had covered up their crimes by making the judiciary unable to work will see that they are wrong.

Şişman also warned that government officials would one day be held accountable before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for having supplied arms to ISIL.

Noting that what relates to a crime cannot be described as a state secret, he added in his statement on Sunday: “Our struggle for justice to be served will save [in court] our state from being held responsible and [thereby] from paying billions of euros in reparations because [the court] will [then] look into whether this activity [of carrying weapons to militants in Syria] is a state policy or an activity by a criminal organization established within the state.”

Prosecutor Takçı recently said, in his defense statement to the Tarsus 2nd High Criminal court regarding the investigation of the MİT trucks, that the trucks were full of weapons.

He reportedly said in court: “When I went to the scene, there were two trucks. A few men with stubble, claiming to be MİT operatives, were shouting, swearing. As I had gone to the scene of the search, I had to look at what was there. [The trucks] were full to the brim with weapons … 155mm [howitzer] shells, anti-aircraft munitions; I also saw munitions of different types and sizes.”


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