When the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) investigation started on March 5-7, 2003, since it focused on a plan seminar held at the First Army Command in Istanbul, it was initially perceived as an investigation targeted directly at the Land Forces.
However, as the investigation continued, with waves of information being brought forward, and an indictment with 193 defendants emerged, it was apparent that the number of naval officers and noncommissioned officers was not at all minimal. In the first indictment, out of 193 defendants, there were 88 land personnel and a 51-man naval contingent, with 51 gendarmerie and three air force members.
The interesting aspect was that none of the naval defendants had participated in the planning seminar ”, but they were categorized as suspects because in some digital assignment documents their names were mentioned.
Later in searches conducted in December 2010 at Gölcük Navy Command and in Feb. 2011 at an air force officer’s home in Eskişehir, some digital evidence was found and the Balyoz investigation then gained momentum in turn. With the preparation of the second and third indictments and their latter merging, it turned into an enormous trial with 361 defendants.
Now, the biggest group in this case was the Naval Forces with 154 defendants.
A list prepared by one of the lawyers of the Balyoz case, Selim Yavuz, which shows the breakdown of the defendants according to force commands, reveals an interesting trend where, as the investigation advances, it becomes more and more Naval-oriented. The second indictment contains a small group of 28 defendants, comprised of 14 naval and 14 air force personnel. In the third indictment, where there are 140 defendants, the breakdown is as follows: 89 naval, 24 air force and 13 land force personnel; 12 gendarmerie and 2 civilians.
When you look at the aggregate amount of personnel indicted, the breakdown is as such: Naval: 154, Land: 101, Gendarmerie 63, Air: 41, Civilian: 2. (Total 361)
What kind of a picture do we see when we review list breaking down the defendants according to the segment of the military force they are in after their releases and acquittals?
The Istanbul 10th High Criminal Court had acquitted 36 of the total 361 defendants in its Sept. 21, 2012 verdict, sentencing the remaining 325 defendants.
a) Penal department no.9 of the Supreme Court of Appeals, last week, confirmed the acquittal of these 36 defendants. Two of them are naval staff, 33 are from the gendarmerie.
b) Additionally, the high court reversed the verdicts of 25 more defendants. In this group there are 15 naval, five gendarmerie; three land forces and two civilian defendants.
c) The Supreme Court also changed the classification of the offense and reversed the sentences of 63 defendants. In this group, three of them are naval staff; the rest is predominantly land forces.
d) The Supreme Court approved the sentences of the 237 defendants.
After these processes, let’s look at the breakdown of the defendants who were acquitted and released:
Land forces: 64, Gendarmerie: 38, Naval: 20, Civilian: 2 Air Force: none: Total: 124
In this case, the majority (64) of the 101 defendants from the land forces have been released or acquitted, while the sentences of 37 of them have been approved. Their sentencing ratio is 37 percent.
Out of the total 154 defendants from the naval forces, 20 have been released and 134 have been sentenced. Their ratio is 87 percent.
The 41 defendants from the Air Force have all been sentenced. Their sentencing ratio is 100 percent. From the gendarmerie, 25 of the 63 defendants have been sentenced, with a ratio of 39.6 percent.
In light of all this data, we can conclude that the force that has been mostly affected and shaken by the Balyoz case is the Naval Forces Command. Sedat Ergin is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Oct. 15. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.