Former top chief freed after grilling
Abstract suspicion cannot be used for an arrest, says a judge for Karadayı. AFP Photo
Former Chief of General Staff İsmail Hakkı Karadayı was released late Jan. 3 after he gave a two-hour long testimony and responded to 83 questions from prosecutors as a suspect for his alleged role in toppling Turkey’s Islamist government during the “post-modern coup” of 1997.
While leaving the Ankara Courthouse late Dec. 3, Karadayı, 81, refused to respond to questions from reporters.
However, his lawyer Erol Aras told the press his client had been released on condition of judicial control. Karadayı will have to report to a police station once a week and was prohibited from travelling abroad, Aras said.
Like others detained in relation to the Feb. 28 investigation, Karadayı was sent to court on charges of “attempting to annul the government of the Republic of Turkey; or attempting to partially or entirely blocking the government from performing its duties.”
The judge presiding over the case justified his decision to release Karadayı by arguing that “abstract suspicion” cannot be used as a reason for arrest, which had been the case in Karadayı arrest, NTV reported. This reasoning could set a precedent for the release of dozens of other detainees in prison as part of the Feb. 28 process investigation.
Karadayı was the chief of general staff during the the 1997 army-led campaign that resulted in the forced resignation of the government of the time.
As part of an investigation launched in 2011, dozens of military officers were arrested, with a considerable number of these officers pointing the finger at Karadayı as the main responsible party.
One of them was retired Gen. Çevik Bir who was deputy chief of the general staff during the Feb. 28 process and who was arrested in April 2012. Bir filed an official complaint about Karadayı where he claimed Karadayı was well informed about the West Study Group (BÇG), a body at the center of the Feb. 28 process.
Some commentators have even questioned whether Karadayı had some kind of unofficial immunity since he was not even questioned in the case, despite the fact at low-level officers working under him were arrested.