Questioning of detained military personnel begins in Istanbul
ISTANBUL — Daily News with wires | 2/23/2010 12:00:00 AM |
Six retired Turkish military personnel were questioned at an Istanbul courthouse Tuesday, a day after many former military officers were detained.
Six retired Turkish military personnel were questioned at an Istanbul courthouse Tuesday, a day after nearly 50 members of the armed forces were detained for allegedly plotting a coup.
The current and retired members of the Turkish military were detained for suspected connections to the “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) Operation, an alleged military coup plan against the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, written in 2003 and brought to light by the daily Taraf in January.
The Sledgehammer plan and subsequent detentions are linked to an ongoing probe into the suspected Ergenekon gang, which allegedly sought to topple the AKP by fomenting societal turmoil.
CNNTürk, however, reported that the latest detainees are not being questioned in connection to Ergenekon.
In all, retired admirals Ali Deniz Kutluk, Özer Karabulut, Lütfü Sancar and Engin Baykal; retired generals Mehmet Kaya Varol and Ayhan Taş; retired colonels Ahmet Metin Dikici, Ali İhsan Şuhadaroğlu; admirals Ramazan Gündeniz and Aziz Çakmak; and Air Force Colonel Cengiz Köylü, an arrested suspect in the Ergenekon case, were brought to the Beşiktaş Courthouse in Istanbul on Tuesday for questioning.
Among others in custody Tuesday was İbrahim Fırtına, the Air Force’s former top commander, as well as Çetin Doğan, the former head of the Istanbul-based 1st Army who is also accused of spearheading the plot. His premises were searched Monday.
Several retired generals and four active-duty admirals were among those detained and flown to Istanbul for questioning Monday. Doğan’s lawyers, meanwhile, objected to their client being put under arrest.
Fırtına, held at Istanbul Police Department's Anti-Terror Unit, said through his lawyers that he would only submit to questioning from the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Under Turkish law, authorities may questions suspects for up to 48 hours before they must be brought before a court.
Özden Örnek, a former top Navy commander, is also among those being questioned. Örnek’s name was first mentioned in the coup diaries, notes on alleged coup plans that a court-ordered expert report determined to have originally come from Özden’s personal computer.
While Fırtına and Örnek are being held at the Anti-Terror Unit, the other detainees are being held at the Anti-Organized Crime Unit.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek has visited the office of General Staff on Tuesday.