Turkish court begins reading Sledgehammer indictment aloud

The prosecution began reading the indictment against the 195 suspects aloud.

Turkish court begins reading Sledgehammer indictment aloud

World Bulletin / News Desk

The prosecution in the Sledgehammer case, in which dozens of retired and active duty members of the military stand accused of having plotted to overthrow the government, began reading the indictment against the 195 suspects aloud.

The trial of suspects in the Sledgehammer coup plot -- a alleged subversive plan that included setting off bombs in mosques and downing Turkish jets to manipulate the public in favor of a coup d'état -- resumed yesterday in the third hearing since its start on Dec. 16, 2010.

In the session, the prosecution read aloud the 968-page indictment, enumerating the accusations against the suspects. Two people from the state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) have been read the indictment.

There are 195 suspects in the trial, all of whom stand accused of a failed attempt to render Parliament ineffective and overthrow the government. Such a charge calls for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison. According to the Sledgehammer plan, the military was to systematically foment chaos in Turkey through acts of violence including planned bomb attacks at the Fatih and Beyazıt mosques in İstanbul. The objective of the alleged plot was to undermine the government in order to lay the groundwork for a coup d'état.

There had been a delay in the trial, which is being heard by the 10th High Criminal Court, because 38 of the suspects filed a request for a change in the judges in the first hearing on Dec. 16. The 11th High Criminal Court -- the next highest court after the 10th -- had denied the request. The 12th High Criminal Court, which heard the suspects' appeal against the 11th court's decision, also rejected the request.

A defense lawyer once again filed a request for a change in the judges during the hearing. The court gave its decision on the appeal after a short break and rejected the request again, pointing to earlier rejections by the next two highest courts. The presiding judge, Ömer Diken, told the lawyer that he can appeal the decision at the 11th High Criminal Court.

Retired Adm. Özden Örnek, the former naval forces commander, and retired Gen. İbrahim Fırtına, the former head of the air forces, are among the prime suspects in the Sledgehammer case.

The court also announced that it had rejected an earlier request by some defense lawyers to refer the former force commanders to the Supreme State Council for trial or to a military court instead of the İstanbul 10th High Criminal Court on the grounds that a “coup attempt” is not a crime related to the military. The lawyers had argued that the indictment contained military terms that civilian judges would be unable to understand.

Suspect Col. Cemal Temizöz, who skipped the first two hearings, was also present during yesterday's session. Temizöz is accused of killing at least 20 people in Turkey's Southeast in a separate case and is known as the “death well colonel.” He is currently incarcerated in Diyarbakır Prison. He is also suspected of having contributed to the Sledgehammer plan.

The Sledgehammer plot suggested that the planned coup would be mainly based in and around İstanbul. The coup plotters planned to “make use of” the police force and soldiers to facilitate the staging of the coup. Police officers and soldiers would be used to establish special security teams, which would be deployed in various Turkish provinces for security reasons. The junta also planned to detain and then arrest thousands of people who might stand against the coup.

Last Mod: 07 Ocak 2011, 11:12
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