Justice Minister: Ergenekon ruling heralds long appeal process
'I don’t know whether there is this lengthy of a ruling in Turkish judicial history. I guess, there isn’t. This is a first,' Bozdağ said.Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has affirmed that a long awaited detailed ruling to the marathon Ergenekon trial, which was issued April 3, ushered in a lengthy appeal process since the colossal detailed ruling runs 16,798 pages in three volumes.
“I don’t know whether there is this lengthy of a ruling in Turkish judicial history. I guess, there isn’t. This is a first,” Bozdağ said in response to reporters’ questions during a visit to his hometown, the Central Anatolian province of Yozgat on April 4.
“How long will it take for those who have been charged to write their appeal petitions after being notified of the ruling? How long will it take for them to read and analyze this ruling? As a matter of fact, I’m wondering about these issues. Of course, reading an almost 17,000-pages long ruling, taking its details into consideration line by line and drawing a conclusion from it will take a long time. The process regarding the Supreme Court of Appeals will also take time,” Bozdağ said. “
“As far as I am concerned, the detailed ruling seems like a harbinger that the process for appealing will extend and that the appeal examination will also take a long time,” he maintained. “Frankly, I don’t believe its length was deliberate,” he replied when asked whether the detailed ruling was deliberately written this long.
The April 3 ruling came eight months after the verdict from the Istanbul 13th Court of Serious Crimes, announcing the ruling that the organization had targeted a long series of governments.
The colossal detailed ruling said former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ was not a “terrorist,” but a “suspect of terrorism,” adding that that definition also implied a political crime. Başbuğ was recently released on the grounds that keeping a suspect under detention pending an appeal without the release of the detailed ruling was a “violation of rights.”
Başbuğ’s comment on the verdict came on the same day when it was released, also the same day when he visited retired Gen. Engin Alan, who is a deputy for the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and has been convicted in the Balyoz (Sledgehgammer) coup plot case, in which he was jailed in Sincan Prison in Ankara.
“I didn’t take the indictments drafted by the specially authorized prosecutors seriously. I didn’t take the ruling delivered on Aug. 5, 2013 by the specially authorized court seriously. I didn’t present any defense either,” Başbuğ said in response to reporters’ questions after visiting Alan, along with President Metin Feyzioğlu of the Union of Turkish Bar Associations (TBB).
“In an environment where ongoing cases at specially authorized courts in Turkey are said to have been a plot [against the military] and where the perpetrator of the plot is said to have been ‘chosen’ police officers, prosecutors and judges, please do not ask what I think about this detailed ruling. I don’t take it seriously. I advise you not to waste your time with it,” Başbuğ said.
“They released a 16,000-pageslong detailed ruling to defend this ruling. Should I feel pity for them, I can’t find the right word. I’ll just say this: Honorable members of the court, you could not defend that ruling even if you were to write a 116,000-pages long detailed ruling, let alone a 16,000-pages long ruling,” he added.
According to Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, however, nobody, including Başbuğ, should make such “humiliating” comments about the ruling, which will be the base for the rest of the legal process.
“Başbuğ’s saying ‘I don’t take it seriously,’ doesn’t even have one gram of value. This is a court ruling, whether we like it or not,” Arınç said in an interview aired live on NTV news channel on April 4.
“Can a Chief of General Staff be the leader of a terrorist organization? You can use such definition for him only if you consider the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] a ‘terrorist organization,’ – which is not possible,” Arınç also said. “We understand from the detailed ruling that the court also doesn’t accept [Başbuğ] as ‘the leader of a terrorist organization’,” he said.