Retired generals arrested in Turkish coup probe

10th Heavy Penal Court decided to arrest alleged coup planners, including retired force commanders Ozden Ornek and Halil Ibrahim Firtina.

Retired generals arrested in Turkish coup probe

World Bulletin-News Desk

10th Heavy Penal Court in Istanbul, which is hearing an alleged coup plot against the Justice and Development Party government, decided to arrest 133 culprits Friday, including retired force commanders Ozden Ornek and Halil Ibrahim Firtina.

Prosecutor Savas Kirbas asked the court to arrest the culprits in the Balyoz case. The Judges which recessed the hearing to assess the prosecutor's request decided to arrest the culprits who were present at the court house including, Ornek, Firtina and Engin Alan.

The Court also issued an arrest warrant for 29 culprits who were not present at the court house, including Ret. Generals Cetin Dogan and Ergin Saygun.

Sledgehammer coup case

A court late Friday evening ordered arrest of 163 suspects in the Sledgehammer coup case, a subversive plot allegedly prepared by a clique inside the military that included plans to crash Turkish jets and bomb large mosques at busy prayer hours to undermine the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) with the hope of eventually overthrowing it.

133 of the suspects including former Air Forces Commander Gen. Halil Ibrahim Firtana and former Naval Forces Commander Adm. Ozden Ornek arrested in the courthouse on Friday. The court issued arrest warrants about 30 suspects who did not attend in the trial including former 1st Army head retired Gen. Çetin Dogan.

The arrests came on Friday during a hearing of the Sledgehammer case. The case is being heard at the Istanbul 10th High Criminal Court.

Retired generals

Among the arrests whom Prosecutor Savas Kirbas wanted behind bars were former 1st Army head Gen. Cetin Dogan, former Air Forces Commander Gen. Halil Ibrahim Firtina and former Naval Forces Commander Adm. Ozden Ornek For the arrests, the prosecutor pointed to Article 100 of the Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK), which calls for custody when there is enough evidence indicating a crime. Presiding Judge Ömer Diken asked the suspects not to leave the courthouse until the judges announce their verdict about the suspects.

Sledgehammer is a suspected coup plot believed to have been devised in 2003 with the aim to unseat the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government through violent acts. According to the Sledgehammer plan, the military was to systematically foment chaos in society through violent acts, among which were planned bomb attacks on the Fatih and Beyazıt mosques in İstanbul. The plot allegedly sought to undermine the government to lay the groundwork for a coup d'état. The military, which has overthrown three governments since 1960 and pressured a conservative government to step down in 1997, has denied there was such a plan.

Possible jail sentences

All suspects are accused of a failed attempt to destroy Parliament and overthrow the government. Such a charge calls for a jail sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

Turkey started trying the Sledgehammer suspects in mid-December of last year in a move, which for most observers, was aimed at challenging subversive plans against civilian authority and the rule of law.

Most of the 195 suspects were present during the hearing. Among them were retired generals Dogan and Firtina retired Adm. Örnek, retired Adm. Ahmet Feyyaz Ogutcu and retired colonels Fikri Karadag and Cemal Temizoz, both of whom are currently on trial in the Ergenekon investigation, and many other high-profile members of the military. However, Col. Dursun Cicek, who is also behind bars on coup charges, did not attend the trial.

Sledgehammer judge: Coup suspects, not TSK, being tried

Also during the hearing, Presiding Judge Diken responded harshly to a claim brought forward by the lawyer of a suspect, saying coup suspects, not the TSK, are being tried in the courtroom.
During the hearing, the lawyer for retired Gen. Engin Alan argued that judges are trying the TSK in the Sledgehammer case. The lawyer's remarks drew the ire of the presiding judge, who said trying members of an institution does not mean trying the institution itself.

Alan's lawyer, Ayhan Nacak, also spoke against an application by some civilians, including civil society group chairmen and journalists, to become co-plaintiffs in the Sledgehammer case. Freedom Association (Ozgur-Der) President Rıdvan Kaya, journalist Abdurrahman Dilipak and former İstanbul Deputy Governor Abdurrahman Kocoglu applied to the Istanbul 10th High Criminal Court in December to become co-plaintiffs in the case. Co-plaintiff status grants a person, or their legal representatives, the right to take part in an ongoing legal action along with the prosecution. The applicants were named on a "to-be-assassinated" list prepared by coup instigators. They were to be assassinated along with many others after the planned coup was staged.

Nacak argued that allowing the applicants to become co-plaintiffs in the Sledgehammer case would prolong the trial process.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Şubat 2011, 11:31

Muhammed Öylek