I was relieved when I got arrested, says Turkey's former Chief of Staff Başbuğ
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet
Başbuğ was given the life sentence in a landmark verdict in the Ergenekon coup plot case on Aug. 5. Daily News Photo/Selahattin SönmezImprisoned former Chief of Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ has expressed his relief at being arrested in January 2012 as part of the Ergenekon case, noting his unease at seeing the incarceration of officers working under him.
“I felt relieved when I was arrested,” said Başbuğ, who is serving a life sentence at Silivri Prison for “for conspiring to overthrow the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.”
Başbuğ, who was visited by members of the Press Council at Silivri Prison on Sept. 17, said he had a clear conscience and that there would be a political price to pay for those who convicted them.
Başbuğ was given the life sentence in a landmark verdict in the Ergenekon coup plot case on Aug. 5. Some 275 suspects were given sentences on the day, receiving hundreds of years of imprisonment in total, with a series of the country’s high-ranking army members, journalists and academics being handed aggravated life sentences.
“I do not know how many months, days it has been here. I am not counting, I am not interested. I was feeling annoyed when I was out while people working under me were in prison. I felt more relieved when I got arrested,” Başbuğ said.
The Press Council’s visit, which was conducted with special permission from the Justice Ministry, was the first meeting between Başbuğ and journalists since the former general’s conviction.
Başbuğ said the conditions in the prison were not problematic but what mattered to him was retaining his health.
“What matters here is not to get sick. Sickness creates problems. The most important side is to protect your mental health. The triangle you live in here is a big danger for your mental health. The first leg of it is cases and trials, the second leg is newspapers and the third is TV. If you give yourself over to these, your mental health will be damaged. Reading books and writing are important; writing is great – you lose yourself in thought,” he said.
Başbuğ said he was deeply saddened by the court’s decision to deny his demand for witnesses to be heard in the case.
“I am accused of preventing the government from doing its duty and I was convicted for that reason. The president, prime minister and the force commanders know whether [the accusations] are true or not. We demanded that they be heard by the court. But the court board rejected our demand, I do not get how can they can be misled this way,” he said.
Başbuğ said he was sleeping with a clear conscious. “The ones who sentenced us must think about it. They cannot find a way out, and they will be overwhelmed with what they did. This will have political consequences.”