Turkish gov't not want to put ex-president on trial

Deputy Prime Minister said the government would not favor putting former President Süleyman Demirel on trial for his role in the Feb. 28, 1997 post-modern coup, enough for him to tell what happened in coup period

Turkish gov't not want to put ex-president on trial

World Bulletin/News Desk

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has said the government would not favor putting former President Süleyman Demirel on trial for his role in the Feb. 28, 1997 unarmed military intervention but that it would be sufficient for him to candidly relate all that happened in that period.

Responding to questions from journalists on a TV program in Bursa on Thursday, Arınç said: “If Demirel is going to be of help to this country, it would be sufficient for him to candidly tell what took place in that [coup] period. We would never want him to appear before a prosecutor or stand trial in court.”

The Turkish military forced a coalition government led by a now-defunct conservative party, the Welfare Party (RP), out of power on the grounds that there was rising religious fundamentalism in the country in 1997. Demirel was the president at that time. He is accused of turning a blind eye to the activities of an illegal group within the military known as the West Study Group (BÇG), which used to categorize politicians, intellectuals, soldiers and bureaucrats according to their religious and ideological backgrounds. As an investigation has been launched into the actors in the Feb. 28 coup, there are calls from society for Demirel to be put on trial for his role in the intervention.

Arınç said trying Demirel on coup charges is actually not possible legally because presidents can only be tried for treason.

The deputy prime minister also noted that he does not know how deep the Feb. 28 investigation will go and whether it will extend to the civilian actors involved in the coup.

“Believe me, as a deputy prime minister, as a person who has many sources of intelligence, I do not know how the Feb. 28 coup investigation began and what kind of preparations the prosecutors made to this effect. I am not curious about this, either. It does not interest me,” said Arınç, adding that he wants the conclusion of the probe as soon as possible without damaging the public peace.

Fifty active duty and retired members of the military have been put behind bars so far as part of the Feb. 28 investigation. The suspects are all accused of playing a major role in the Feb. 28 coup.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Mayıs 2012, 15:35

Muhammed Öylek

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