Arrested ex-top general praises PM for support
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
‘I never found the imputations about İlker Pasha correct’ Erdoğan said on Aug 5 on a live TV show.The prime minister has reiterated his discomfort with the continuing detention of former top commander İlker Başbuğ just days after the court rejected his release request despite a recently adopted legal arrangement extending the scope of judicial control measures.
“I never found the imputations about İlker Pasha correct. [Allegations] that he was a member of a terrorist organization are improper. This kind of imputation for a person who has served as the chief of the General Staff is absolutely cruel,” Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said late yesterday on a live TV show, adding that he had wanted to see Başbuğ tried without arrest from the very beginning.
Başbuğ, who served as the chief of the General Staff between 2008 and 2010, was arrested on Jan. 5, 2012, as part of the Ergenekon coup-plot case and was accused of being the “chief of a terrorist organization.” Erdoğan had initially said Başbuğ should be tried without arrest and he signaled that he was disturbed by the detention order for Başbuğ, with whom he had worked closely for two years.
The third judicial reform package, which was adopted just before Parliament adjourned in late June, raised hope for high-profile detainees, including Başbuğ, as the package gives judges the ability to implement judicial control without a maximum limit, rather than relying on detention. Previously, this was only applicable for those facing charges punishable with up to three years in jail.
However, the court refused to implement judicial control measures to facilitate Başbuğ’s release on the grounds that he was a flight risk.
‘There’s no flight risk for a Turkish officer’
Erdoğan criticized the court’s detention orders for army officers, saying he saw no flight risk for a member of the Turkish Armed Forces.
“Members of armed forces could and should be tried without arrest. I see no flight risk for a member of the Turkish Armed Forces. Officers performing their duties abroad or holding an office at NATO have been called [for testimony], and they came [to testify], leaving their families behind. This is a courtesy; there is a sensibility. [But] they were arrested. This attitude caused tension,” Erdoğan said.
In further comments, Erdoğan voiced his doubts about the legitimacy of the arrest warrants, saying he still did not know why he was put behind bars, referring to his three-month jail sentence over a poem he read out at a rally over 10 years ago.
“We cannot say all of those behind bars are there justly. Many people could be imprisoned because of their thoughts or just for simple offenses. I don’t know what my fault was and they put me behind bars. They form a package and they include you in this package. I faced this. We should also fight a struggle against this,” Erdoğan said.