12 nabbed in Feb 28 coup case
ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency
Gen. Erol Özkasnak was serving as general secretary to the General Staff during the Feb 28 process. He was detained in his home in Bodrum yesterday. AA photo
Detention orders were issued for at least 12 military officers yesterday, including retired Gen. Erol Özkasnak, in a second wave of arrests made under the investigation into the post-modern military coup of February 28.
Police searched the homes of suspects, including four officers on active duty, in six cities after an Ankara prosecutor with special authority issued detention orders for numerous retired and active-duty military officers as part of the probe into the 1997 military-led coup, which forced a popularly elected coalition government to resign.
The gendarmerie started a search at Özkasnak’s residence in the resort town of Bodrum in Muğla province at around 8 a.m. Özkasnak, who served as general secretary to the General Staff during the Feb. 28 process, was at his residence and invited police officers, who arrived later, into his house. The gendarmerie left Özkasnak’s residence after the police arrived and established a perimeter around the home. Journalists were not allowed near Özkasnak’s home, reports said.
Searches in 7 cities
Police also searched a military housing compound and a military guesthouse in Istanbul, as well as home addresses in Ankara, Istanbul, İzmir, Adana, Muğla, Eskişehir and Afyonkarahisar.
Eighteen suspects were arrested in last week’s wave of detentions. Among the arrested was then-Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Çevik Bir.
In his police examination Bir said preventing religious fundamentalism was the military’s duty at the time according to the National Security Policy Document issued by the National Security Council.
“Protecting the Turkish Republic is the duty of the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK]. Religious fundamentalism was the primary internal threat according to the National Security Policy Document at that time. This document was signed by the ministers and the prime minister at the time. The Western Action Concept was created to fight religious fundamentalism. We conducted all of our work in accordance with our legal and constitutional duties. If we hadn’t done our duty, we would have committed illegal acts,” Bir reportedly told the police.
Police questioned detainees about the “Western Action Concept” of the “West Working Group,” a committee of military officials that is said to have monitored the government’s activities and kept illegal records of private information on thousands of people.
The “post-modern coup,” or the “Feb. 28 process,” refers to a harsh army-led campaign that forced Turkey’s first Islamist prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, to resign in June 1997, after serving only a year in office. The process took its name from the Feb. 28, 1997, meeting of the National Security Council (MGK).
At the meeting Turkey’s then-omnipotent military imposed a series of tough secularist demands on Erbakan, aimed mainly at curbing Islamic education in the face of what was perceived to be a growing threat to Turkey’s secular system.