A civilian court has arrested a former chief of staff for the first time in Turkey’s history as suspect Gen İlker Başbuğ rejects accusations that he sought to overthrow the government through propaganda. President Abdullah Gül calls for an even-tempered contemplation of the matter, noting that ‘everyone is equal in front of the law’
Gen İlker Başbuğ leaves a courthouse after an order for his arrest. AA photo
Former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ was arrested late last night on charges of heading a terrorist organization and attempting to overthrow the government.
Başbuğ had arrived yesterday at an Istanbul prosecutor’s office to testify in an ongoing case into an alleged propaganda campaign against the current government by the Turkish Armed Forces.
After seven hours of questioning, prosecutor Cihan Kansız directed Başbuğ to a court requesting his arrest on charges of "heading a terrorist organization," and "attempting to overthrow the government through use of force."
The court ordered Başbuğ's arrest at around half past midnight and sent him to Silivri prison. It is the first time in Turkey's history that a former chief of staff has been arrested by a civilian court of law.
President Abdullah Gül commented on Başbuğ's arrest today, saying, "Everyone is equal in front of the law; the matter should be contemplated with an even-temper." 'Judgment rests with the Turkish people'
Başbuğ made a statement after the court ordered his arrest, saying, "The 26th chief of the General Staff of the Turkish Republic has been arrested on charges of forming and leading a terrorist organization. The judgment rests with the Turkish people."
Başbuğ denied all accusations in his defense and said it was "tragicomic" that the chief of one of the world's most powerful armies had been accused of leading a terrorist organization. 'Heaviest punishment'
The leveling of such a claim was already the heaviest punishment that he could have received, Başbuğ said, adding that any subsequent penalty would not hurt as much as the initial accusation.
"I was not asked a serious question during my time with the prosecutor. I do not know how they reached this conclusion [that I headed a terrorist organization],” he said.
Başbuğ said he had always carried out his duty as mandated by the laws and the Constitution. He said it was painful for him to be accused of attempting to overthrow the government by forming several websites and making several press statements. "If I had such malicious intentions, I could have found other ways of achieving them given that I commanded a force of 700,000 people." Decision political, CHP head says
Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu
commented on the arrest, saying the decision was made by political authorities and then confirmed by the court.
Kılıçdaroğlu also said he had "no faith that specially authorized courts" would achieve justice.