BEIRUT: Five people, including a former intelligence official, have been sentenced by a Turkish court for their involvement in the abduction of two defected Syrian army officers, according to Turkish media reports. The verdict Wednesday saw Onder Sigircikoglu, a former National Intelligence Organization official, receive 20 years for the September 2011 abduction of Col. Hussein Harmoush and Maj. Mustafa Kassum.
Harmoush was one of the first Syrian army defectors, and was abducted from a refugee camp in Hatay province and handed over to Syrian authorities.
The court also sentenced businessmen Erdogan Ayhan Kit and Mete Aslan and two employees of Aslan. The businessmen received 16 years and the employees eight years, the media said.
The Hatay regional intelligence chief was acquitted, while the Adana official’s case was dropped because the president did not press charges.
The reports said after Sigircikoglu was arrested, the National Intelligence Organization dismissed him but transferred him to the Customs and Trade Ministry, which appointed him as a customs officer on the Turkish-Syrian border, causing a public outcry.
Harmoush later appeared on Syrian television to “recant.” His whereabouts remain unknown.