Ex-generals engaged in reciprocal accusations
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Ex-Gen Yalman rejects the claims of ex-top Gen Özkök who says issuing a warning against the government was first formulated by Yalman in his testimony. However, Gen Özkök says, ‘I remember his words clearly.’
Two major coup-plot cases are continuing to hear testimony, but the collection of high-ranking soldiers on trial in the suits are increasingly turning on each other as the trials progress, trading mutual accusations.
Aytaç Yalman, the head of the Turkish Army between 2002 and 2004, accused retired Adm. Özden Örnek, a jailed suspect in the Balyoz case, of slander for what he said Aug. 31 at a case hearing at the 13th Istanbul High Criminal Court in Silivri.
Yalman denied Örnek’s claim in which he said “Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan delivered him recorded footages of alleged coup-plan seminars.”
Örnek claimed that retired Gen. Ergin Saygun’s seminar records were given to Yalman by Erdoğan himself.
Örnek said he obtained this information straight from Yalman’s mouth and that he then asked for “the source of the records and the fate of them.”
But Yalman said Örnek’s comments were fictionalized on the bases of slander by Saygun.
“This [plea] is just a slanderous document against me. When Saygun himself said these things, I did not respond since he was experiencing illness,” Yalman said.
Saygun’s heart is reportedly operating only at 30 percent capacity, while his lungs are only working at 40 percent capacity. The retired general has been in prison since March 14.
“From the very beginning of the trials, I have kept my silence about the claims against me due to the conditions I faced. However, this last plea crossed the boundaries of decency [as it arises from lies],” Yalman told daily Hürriyet yesteday.
Yalman said it was difficult for him to understand why a commander of the Turkish Naval Forces would blame his senior commander “with lies.” Yalman also said he had heard of the records but had never obtained them. “If I knew the content of those things, I would have taken necessary actions.”
In recent months, Yalman also strongly rejected claims by retired Gen. Hilmi Özkök, the head of the Turkish military between 2002 and 2006, over a possible memorandum against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) during the early days of its administration. During his historic testimony in the Ergenekon coup-plot case on Aug. 3, Özkök said Yalman had first formulated the idea of issuing a memorandum against the party to warn it against injecting religion into politics, but Yalman countered, saying Özkök did not remember the event in one interview but later contradicted himself in another interview by saying, “There are such things you cannot forget; I remember his words clearly.”
The matter had previously come up in the diary of the Naval Forces commander of the time, Özden Örnek.
Örnek has denied that the comments in the diary, which was accepted by prosecutors in the Ergenekon case as evidence that there was a military-civilian conspiracy against the AKP government, were his.
Sledgehammer is an alleged military coup plot against the AKP said to have been set up in 2003. According to allegations, the military planned drastic measures to foment unrest in the country in order to remove the AKP from power. These measures included bombing two major mosques in Istanbul, assaulting a military museum disguised as religious extremists and raising tensions with Greece by attacking a Turkish plane in an incident that was to be blamed on the Aegean neighbor.