Turkish PM slams CHP for Ergenekon protests as prosecutors launch probe into MPs
ANKARA / ISTANBUL
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused the main opposistion party today of “attacking independent courts” as prosecutors launched an investigation against the Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmakers who attended yesterday’s Ergenekon hearing on a variety of accusations.
Erdoğan also blamed the CHP for “provocation” and “turning the front of the courthouse into a battlefield and attacking the independent judiciary" as prosecutors looked into accusations that the deputies “incited crime,” “attempted to influence the judiciary” and “provoked people to engage in illegal meetings and marches.”
“Yesterday the CHP tagged along after a marginal party [the Workers’ Party (İP) whose leader, Doğu Perinçek is a suspect in the Ergenekon case]. They tried to turn the front of the courthouse into a battlefield. The CHP tags along wherever there is a dark organization. There are also terrorist organizations they go after. They cannot make policies but they keep up appearance on some others’ convoy,” Erdoğan said in his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) group meeting today.
The CHP was represented at yesterday’s hearing in the Ergenekon trial, which is now in the fifth year dealing with an alleged plot to overthrow the AKP government. The hearing was adjourned due to clashes in front of the courthouse and protests inside the courtroom led by 50 CHP lawmakers, including the deputy leader of the party, Umut Oran, and deputy group chairman Muharrem İnce.
Erdoğan said lawmakers had no authority to create anarchy, saying he thinks that “the judiciary will take the necessary steps.”
As the prime minister was speaking at the group meeting, The Silivri Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a written statement that the lawmakers who attended the protest and the hearing were under a probe for “attempting to influence the judiciary” and “provoking people to engage in illegal meetings and marches.” The names under investigation also include the organizers of the protest.
The court had convened to hear the final defenses of defendants in the trial at an initial hearing in the morning; however, the judges decided to put an end to the trial for the day because of “high tension.”
Police and gendarmerie forces used pepper gas and water cannon against thousands of protesters who pulled down police barriers in front of the 13th Istanbul High Criminal Court in Silivri to reach the courthouse.
The pepper spray used by the police against protesters even entered into the courtroom, affecting defendants, journalists and opposition party deputies, some reports said.
The court is trying 275 suspects, of whom 67 are under arrest including main opposition CHP deputies Mehmet Haberal and Mustafa Balbay, former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ, and Perinçek.
Prosecutors have demanded aggravated life imprisonment for a number of suspects, including Başbuğ, Balbay and Haberal.
The suspects were supposed to deliver their final defense, but the trial has been adjourned until April 11.