Coup plotters similar to secret groups in Europe: Prosecutors
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Istanbul's Silivri courthouse. AA photo
Ergenekon is a counter guerrilla organization similar to groups in Europe like Italy’s secret organization Gladio, prosecutors have said in their final opinion in the coup-plot case.
“‘Ergenekon,’ is the name of a secret organization in Turkey, like counter guerrilla groups in Europe, according to the evidence belonging to the Ergenekon terror organization,” read the final opinion, prepared by the public prosecutors Mehmet Ali Pekgüzel, Nihat Taşkın and Murat Dalkuş, Anatolia news agency reported.
A secret paramilitary organization called Gladio was revealed in Italy and dismantled after sensitive investigations.
Prosecutors also said the Susurluk case, named after the town of Susurluk, where a fatal car crash in 1996 revealed the links between state security officers, organized criminals and politicians, was a revelation of the Ergenekon organization.
“A structure revealed 11 years ago after the Susurluk accident was in fact a small cell of the Ergenekon organization. ‘Ergenekon’ is a term belonging to Turkish culture, similar to the examples in Europe,” said the final opinion. The term “Ergenekon” comes from a Turkish epic describing a mountain called Ergenekon as the birthplace of the Turks.
Wanted murder suspect Abdullah Çatlı, Police Chief Hüseyin Kocadağ and Deputy Sedat Bucak were found in the same car, which crashed with a truck near Susurluk in 1996.
“Despite the public support for shedding light on this case, only 14 people were prosecuted in the Susurluk case,” said the prosecutors. The prosecutors also claimed that the existence of an organization called Ergenekon was certain, based on the evidence, documents and ammunition found belonging to the organization. The next hearing of the Ergenekon case will be held on April 8.
Prosecutors have demanded aggravated life imprisonment for a number of suspects, including former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ and Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmakers Mustafa Balbay, Mehmet Haberal and Sinan Aygün, Doğan News Agency reported.
The prosecutors also demanded aggravated life sentences for Gen. Nusret Taşdeler, former generals Hasan Iğsız, Hurşit Tolon and Şener Eruygur, as well as journalist Tuncay Özkan, on accusations of attempting to overthrow the government by force. The next trial will be held April 8.
MP’s to remain arrested
The court ruled on March 18 that 67 suspects, including Başbuğ, Balbay and Haberal, should remain under arrest, while rejecting the prosecutor’s demands that six people currently under arrest should be freed pending trial, as well as a request that the court arrest 20 suspects currently being tried without arrest.
The court also rejected demands from defense lawyers that the judge should be recused from the case due to the trial’s prolonged nature.
Meanwhile, the suspects have rejected the prosecutor’s demand of aggravated life imprisonment, declaring the probe to be political.
“The target of this case is the republic’s values, institutions, and [the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal] Atatürk’s principles and revolutions. For these reasons, we reject the prosecutor’s opinion on the alleged accusations,” said a joint statement from the suspects that was read by lawyer Serkan Günel on March 18 to reporters during a break in the trial.
“Prosecutors have disregarded the laws. The fundamental principles of the law have been violated. The evidence in favor of the suspects has been ignored,” said the statement.
PM signals discomfort
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan expressed his uneasiness over the state of affairs regarding the Ergenekon case. “There is a judicial process and I’m not as comfortable as the opposition. They are violating the Constitution very comfortably,” he said. “I stand behind what I previously said.” In February, Erdoğan had referred to former Gen. İlker Başbuğ, among suspects, and said that accusing former generals of terrorism was a “serious mistake.”