Former Chief of Staff Özkök backs Erdoğan on military remarks
İZMİR - Anatolian News Agency
‘I wholeheartedly believe most of them [soldiers under arrest] have not committed a crime,’ says Former Chief of Staff Özkök, backing PM’s remarks. AA photoThe Former Chief of General Staff Ret. Gen. Hilmi Özkök has backed Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s criticism of the judiciary for long detention periods of arrested Turkish soldiers, arguing “most of” the suspects were innoncent.
“I wholeheartedly believe most of them [soldiers under arrest] have not committed a crime,” Özkök told the Anatolia news agency yesterday. “I personally do not believe that the major mistakes mentioned in the trials were done. I have said that numerous times, but of course, we respect the judiciary. Justice should be quickly served and the lost benefits should be compensated.”
He noted that many innocent soldiers have lost their occupational rights. Erdoğan had publicly criticized the long detention of army generals, saying it may be having an adverse effect on the fight against terrorism.
“There are currently 400 retired officers and non-commissioned officers. Most of them are detained. If the evidence is indisputable, [the court should] give a verdict. If you consider hundreds of officers and the [former] chief of staff to be members of an [illegal] organization, this would destroy the spirit of the armed forces,” Erdoğan said in a live television interview on private 24 news station Jan. 26.
Özkök said he supports Erdoğan’s remarks expressed the desires of the entire Turkish nation. “The Turkish Armed Forces are an armed organization but when you associate the Turkish Armed Forces with terrorism, things change and it becomes a sad situation that makes us feel more than sadness and sorrow,” Özkök said.