Turkish military asks prosecutors to investigate ‘plot’ claims
The Turkish General Staff has filed a criminal complaint to the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office on coup cases, including the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) and Ergenekon trials on Dec. 27. DAILY NEWS photo
Turkey’s General Staff has filed a criminal complaint with the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office, asking for an investigation of an alleged “plot” against the military leading to the conviction of numerous high-ranking members of the Turkish Armed Forces in the “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) and Ergenekon coup-plot cases.
The prosecutor’s office launched an investigation yesterday into claims of an inappropriate relationship between a judge at a top court and U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose followers, dubbed the “Cemaat” (Community) or “Hizmet” (Service), have begun clashing with the government.
In its official complaint, the General Staff argued that evidence had been fabricated and manipulated in the coup plot cases.
“The judicial police officers, prosecutors and judges in the trials in which active and retired officers of the Turkish Armed Forces have been judged have ignored the pleas of defense lawyers and manipulated criminal evidence,” the official complaint file said, according to daily Hürriyet.
The move by the General Staff comes just days after the prime minister’s top political adviser spoke of a “plot,” leading to opposition calls for exposure of the “conspiracy.”
“Everybody knows that those who have plotted against their own country’s national army, national intelligence [organization], national bank and the civilian rule that has been enshrined in the nation’s heart could not have acted for the good of this country,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s top political adviser, Yalçın Akdoğan, said Dec. 24, 2013, in a column in daily Star.
Akdoğan said hundreds of military officers who were convicted of plotting to overthrow the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government led by Erdoğan had been framed by groups within the judiciary who are now allegedly orchestrating a widespread corruption probe against Erdoğan’s allies.
It also comes at a time when former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ filed a petition for his release, citing Erdoğan’s statement that there were “gangs within the state” as proof of his innocence.
A lawyer for the Balyoz convicts, Haluk Pekşen, told Hürriyet that officials from the General Staff had confirmed that the criminal complaint was filed.
Pekşen made a petition to the General Staff last week, requesting the military file a criminal complaint following Akdoğan’s allegations of a “plot” against the army.
Akdoğan was apparently referring to followers of Gülen, whose members command a global empire of business, media and education interests.
The convicted military officers have long claimed that much of the evidence against them was fabricated. Recent news reports which said the military chief has requested the government’s help for a review of the officers’ cases prompted some analysts to interpret the ongoing process as a sign of an uneasy alliance forming between Erdogan’s government and the military against the Gülen movement.
Dinner held between army brass and top judges
High-grade officers of the General Staff gathered on Dec. 18 during a special dinner with members of the Constitutional Court and the high military court following, daily Vatan reported on Jan. 1.
The head of the Constitutional Court Haşim Kılıç dismissed the situation of the convicted ex-officers having been discussed, describing the dinner as a meeting of courtesy.
“The Chief of General Staff [Gen. Necdet Özel] is a very courteous person. He, of course, knows speaking on issues that the Constitutional Court is examining or can be subject to review within the individual applications [procedure] can bring us difficulties. He did not mention a word on those issues during the dinner,” Kılıç was quoted as saying by daily Vatan.
He added the event was in reciprocity of the dinner given to Özel and other military officers at the Constitutional Court.
Imam judges claim
The remarkable coincidence of legal action following an allegation by AKP Deputy Chair Mehmet Ali Şahin suggested the parties were moving in concert.
Şahin, also a former justice minister who served between August 2007 and May 2009, has stated he confirmed, at the time, that a staff member at the Supreme Court of Appeals sent a case file to Pennsylvania, where Gülen lives, and asked for Gülen’s call on the ruling.
“There is a criminal case about a person who chairs an important holding and he has been convicted. The person is called ‘the Cemaat’s Imam;’ I know him and I am keeping his name secret. He sent the case file with a brief summary of the case to Pennsylvania in respect to what decision should be made. Can a prosecutor, a judge do something like this?” Şahin said at a public meeting on Dec. 29, 2013.
A lawyer for Gülen immediately denied the allegations, calling Şahin’s statement a “denigration.”
Still, upon Şahin’s statement, the Judges and Prosecutors Union (YARSAV) filed a complaint about the allegations concerning the judicial system, prompting the Ankara Chief Prosecutor’s Office to launch an investigation Jan. 2 into the claims. In addition to Şahin’s statement, remarks by Akdoğan on the same issue have been handled by the prosecutor’s office as evidence in the investigation file.
Meanwhile, some members of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK), which angered the government by delivering a statement on Dec. 26, 2013, and describing a new judicial police regulation obliging those carrying out investigations to inform superiors as “unconstitutional,” visited on Jan. 2 Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ.
Justice Ministry officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the state-run Anadolu Agency that it was a courtesy visit during which the HSYK members congratulated Bozdağ for his recent appointment to his current post.