A regional appeals court has upheld prison sentences given to members of the İpek family, whose İpek Holding was seized by the Turkish government in 2015 due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement, labeled by the Turkish government as a terrorist organization.
The 4th criminal chamber of the Ankara Regional Court on Thursday upheld a prison sentence of 79 years, eight months for Cafer Tekin İpek, a brother of Akın İpek, the founder of İpek Holding who has been living in the UK since 2015, and a prison sentence of 11 years, eight months to his mother, Melek İpek.
The İpek family members were given the jail sentences on charges of membership in a terrorist organization and tax evasion at the end of a trial concluded in January by the Ankara 24th High Criminal Court.
Cafer Tekin İpek has been behind bars since April 2016. Melek İpek was a well-known and respected woman even among ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) circles as a pioneer of charity activities before the government crackdown on the Gülen movement began.
There were 20 defendants in the trial. The remaining defendants were also given jail sentences ranging between two and almost 10 years.
The defendants will be able to challenge the court’s ruling at the Supreme Court of Appeals.
The court also ordered that the defendants’ shares in the company be transferred to the Treasury and that a board of trustees continue to run the organization.
İpek Holding has been managed by a group of government-appointed trustees since 2015.
Turkey accuses the Gülen movement of orchestrating a 2016 coup attempt, although it strongly denies any involvement. Ankara also believes the movement had attempted to overthrow the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government several times before the failed coup, most notably by conducting a corruption investigation into the close circle of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2013.
When the government decided to seize İpek Holding, Akın İpek was in the UK and decided not to return home.
The Turkish government filed a formal extradition request for the senior İpek that was rejected by a UK court.