Top court’s Balyoz ruling ‘fascinating’: US envoy
Serkan Demirtaş ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
'Anything that strengthens the rigor of justice and the transparency of the judicial processes is really important,' Ricciardone said. DAILY NEWS PhotoU.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone has described the verdict given by the Constitutional Court on the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plot case, which paves the way for the retrial of a score of military officers, as “fascinating” and “remarkable,” as it was a unanimous ruling.
“Without knowing the procedures of this case, I can say that anything that strengthens the rigor of justice and the transparency of the judicial processes is really important,” Ricciardone told a small group of journalists late on June 18 right after the Court announced its verdict.
The Court ruling stated that the rights of the 230 suspects were violated throughout the legal process, in a landmark move that could pave the way for their release from prison and retrial.
“A lot of Turks had questions. Nobody wanted the military involved in politics, but Turks care about their justice system as they should in any democracy. Many, many Turks questioned whether the procedures were correct, whether the evidence was strong, and whether the transparency that most democracies demand was there. So it sounds like a lot of Turks would welcome this,” he added.
The U.S. ambassador said he always tried to stay away from getting involved in individual cases such as Balyoz and Ergenekon, in which hundreds of military officers as well as intellectuals, academics and journalists were prosecuted on charges of plotting a coup attempt against a democratically elected government. “But I am glad to repeat what I said before: In any democracy, citizens’ confidence in the judiciary is fundamental to the strength of the democracy. And there were many questions it raised about the evidence in this case, and the proper procedures,” he said.
Ricciardone added that the Court’s ruling, although he does not have full knowledge about its reasoning, could strengthen the due process of what Turkish citizens have every right to expect in a state of law. “It sounds like a good thing,” he stressed.
Upon a question about whether he knew any of the Balyoz suspects, Ricciardone said he saw them as “patriotic upholders of their Constitution, of their country … we worked with them with respect. So we were shocked at the charges when they came out.”