Court acquits ex-military cadet sentenced to prison for terrorism

Mustafa Enis Durak and his mother drawn by Italian activist and graphic designer Gianluca Costantini.

A former military cadet who was arrested in May to serve a seven-year-and-six-month sentence for his links to the Gülen movement has been acquitted by a regional court on charges of terrorism, Turkish Minute reported, citing a tweet from his brother.

Mustafa Enis Durak, 22, currently a third-year medical student, was arrested three times over a six-month period because of his connections to the Gülen movement. He was first arrested on December 6, 2021 but was released 20 days later. He was rearrested on April 14 and sent to a prison in Izmir to be released a week later. He was finally arrested in May to serve his sentence.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of having organized a failed coup on July 15, 2016 and calls it a “terrorist organization”, although the movement strongly denies any involvement in the coup attempt or any activity. terrorist.

The Izmir Regional Court, which serves as an appeals court but can also make final decisions without the need for a new trial, acquitted Durak on the grounds that there was no evidence to support the charges against him.

Durak was accused of attending religious meetings as a military cadet and observing Islamic practices such as prayer, which are strictly regulated by the Turkish military. He was pressured to give the names of his friends who attended the meetings; however, Durak refused and denied all charges.

His acquittal was announced Tuesday on Twitter by his brother Kerim Durak, who also posted a photo of him, Mustafa Enis and their mother.

Durak’s family previously said he was only 14 when he was accepted into a military high school in Istanbul. He was 16 when the coup attempt took place and, according to his family, he cannot be held responsible.

Shortly after the coup attempt, the government closed down war academies, military high schools, and preparatory schools and replaced them with a military university under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defense.

A total of 259 military cadets were arrested for coup on July 16, 2016 and arrested four days later. The cadets were charged a year after being remanded in custody and their trial ended in May 2018.

One hundred and seventy-eight of the cadets were sentenced to life imprisonment for attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and parliament by force, as well as for membership in a terrorist organization.

The cadets say they were unaware that a coup attempt was underway and were acting on orders from their superiors, who told them there was a terrorist attack.

In late June, more than 60 former air force cadets who were convicted of the coup and sentenced to life in prison were released pending retrial after the Supreme Court the country’s appeals court overturned their sentences.

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