ANKARA, March 1 The honorary chairman of Turkish
conglomerate Dogan Holding was summoned on Wednesday
to appear in court over accusations of fuel smuggling, a day
after Turkey's president criticised a story published in the
group's Hurriyet newspaper.
Aydin Dogan, 80, who founded and ran media-to-energy
conglomerate until 2010, is a prominent figure in Turkey's
secular establishment and has had strained ties with President
Tayyip Erdogan and the ruling Islamist-rooted AK Party in the
His group has faced charges that it ran a fuel-smuggling
ring a decade ago and Dogan and Isbank's Ersin
Ozince, 64, face up to 24-1/2 years in prison on charges of
setting up a criminal gang, smuggling and fraud.
This is the first time, however, that Dogan has been
summoned to court in the case, rather than being represented by
his lawyer. Dogan and Ozince have denied any wrongdoing.
The Istanbul court ordered that Dogan be compelled to attend
the next hearing in the case where 47 defendants are being
tried, state-run Anadolu Agency said.
The group's newspaper Hurriyet has come under
fire for a Feb. 25 story saying the government had not sought
the opinion of the army before lifting a ban on the headscarf in
The headline was seen as implying discord between the army
and government and was criticised by Erdogan on Tuesday, sending
shares in Hurriyet and Dogan Holding tumbling.
The shares fell further on Wednesday with Dogan Holding down
4.2 percent and Hurriyet 1.4 percent lower.
The court case covers the 2001-2008 period when Dogan
Holding and Isbank owned stakes in Petrol Ofisi, Turkey's
biggest chain of gas stations, now operated by Austria's OMV
. The retailer is accused of avoiding customs taxes.
Erdogan has repeatedly accused Dogan Holding of bias against
the government, which the media organisation denies.
Aydin Dogan has dismissed the oil smuggling case, saying it
lacked reason and legal basis.
(Reporting by Ece Toksabay; editing by Ralph Boulton and Susan