Gülenist prosecutor’s confession a sigh of relief for former top Turkish soldier
ANKARAFormer Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt has said he was happy about the fact that a prosecutor linked to Fethullah Gülen, the alleged mastermind of the July 15 coup attempt, has confessed to putting false charges against him a decade ago in a bid to ease the rooting of the group within the military.
“Unfortunately I have been eroded with false charges for years. Still, I am glad that the truth about slanders aimed at the Turkish Armed Forces [TSK] on my behalf have come to light,” Büyükanıt told daily Hürriyet columnist Fikret Bila.
“The truth comes to light sooner or later,” Büyükanıt said.
The remarks of the former general came after Ferhat Sarıkaya, a former prosecutor, confessed to prosecutors that he tried to put pressure on Büyükanıt back in 2005 to prevent his rise in the military and ease things for a Gülenist build up, according to a daily Cumhuriyet report on Aug. 2.
Sakıraya had bid to include Büyükanıt in a case concerning charges of allegedly bombing the Umut bookstore in Şemdinli, a district in the eastern province of Hakkari, on Nov. 9, 2005. The bookstore was owned by Seferi Yılmaz, a former outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) member.
Sarıkaya, the Van prosecutor at the time, ordered the arrests of the suspects, who were later indicted and tried in the Van court for “staging acts targeting the unity of the state and the territorial integrity of the country, murder, attempted murder and causing physical injury.”
Sarıkaya also opened a number of investigations into top army commanders, including Büyükanıt, then the Land Forces commander and later chief of general staff.
Two non-commissioned officers, Ali Kaya and Özcan İldeniz, as well as an informant from the PKK, Veysel Ateş, were the main suspects in the bombing.
Büyükanıt, then the Land Forces commander, had praised Kaya and said, “I know him, he’s a good boy.”
Later, however, Sarıkaya was disbarred by the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). The ban was removed after five years, in April 2011.
Still in 2011, a Van court accepted a lawyer’s request to investigate four high-ranking officers, including Büyükanıt, as part of the Şemdinli case.
When Sarıkaya brought in charges about Büyükanıt, some media reports, including those on outlets close to the Gülen movement, had named him “the brave prosecutor.”
According to the Aug. 2 Cumhuriyet report, Sarıkaya confessed that he included Büyükanıt’s name in the case upon a demand by judges close to Gülen, including İlhan Kaya, who would later become a member of the Supreme Court of Appeals, in an apparent plot to prevent Büyükanıt from become the chief of general staff.
He also said he had no difficulties during his suspension as he moved to South Africa, with the Gülenists meeting all his expanses.
“I am working on these confessions with my lawyers. Of course I will use my legal rights,” he said.