Ahead of local elections on Sunday, the Turkish crackdown on the embarrassing revelation that trucks of its National Intelligence Organization (MIT) tried to smuggle weapons to Syria evidently to arm rebel jihadists last January continues, with the officials who intercepted the trucks being put on trial.
Turkey's top judicial body ruled on Thursday to allow the prosecution of five prosecutors and three police commanders who stopped the trucks, accusing them of harming Turkey by allegedly framing the transfer, reports the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News.
Court President Mehmet Yilmaz in making the ruling said, "it is beyond dispute that investigations which are conducted for other goals and without taking care of sense of justice…will have a negative impact on social peace, serenity and confidence and will destroy confidence and respect for the judiciary."
The embarrassing foiling of the weapons smuggling blew up in the news again recently after daily Cumhuriyet last Friday published video footage of the cargo being discovered by the security forces who are now on trial. It reported the trucks held 1,000 mortar shells, 80,000 rounds of ammunition for light and heavy weapons as well as hundreds of grenade launchers.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the opposition daily Cumhuriyet and its editor-in-chief Can Dundar of "publishing images and information contrary to the truth" and "obtaining and disseminating secret information," threatening they would pay a "heavy price."
He made good on his threats on Tuesday, filing a criminal complaint against the paper and Dundar. Erdogan's lawyers demanded two life terms for Dundar aside from 42 years in jail.
Turkey currently has the largest number of imprisoned journalists in the world, with many crying out against the nation's increasingly totalitarian stance in impinging on freedom of the press.