Turkish prime minister warns over coup probe

Turkish prime minister warns over coup probe

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish prime minister warns over coup probe

PM Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warns that protracting the Feb 28 probe will upset social peace and damage Turkey’s international image.

The government has called on the judiciary for a speedy completion of the probe into the “post-modern coup” and warned that protracting the case would upset social peace and damage Turkey’s international image.

In an unprecedented criticism of a probe targeting the military, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he was “very disturbed” after prosecutors issued arrest warrants for a fourth batch of soldiers as part of the investigation into the 1997 “post-modern coup,” also known as the “February 28 process,” which saw Turkey’s first Islamist Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan resign as a result of a harsh army-led secularist campaign.

“Certain proceedings are under way concerning the February 28 process. But one wave after another like this… it’s annoying to society. We are also seriously disturbed. What needs to be done should be done promptly and the matter should be finished off. But if those waves [of arrests] keep coming one after another they will drown the country. I believe things should not be protracted that much,” Erdoğan told reporters late Tuesday. 

Asked whether he would consider applying for an intervening party status in the case, Erdoğan, who was member of the ousted Welfare party, said that he would make a decision once an indictment is drawn up. 

After the investigation began in April, the prime minister had called for the expansion of the probe into media, civic groups and business people who allegedly backed the military in pressuring Erbakan into resignation.

The deputy chairman of the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), Hüseyin Çelik, issued a similar message yesterday. He rejected suggestions that Erdoğan’s remarks amounted to meddling with the judiciary and raised concern over the international implications of a potentially flawed investigation. 

“The prime minister has said that the probe should extend to all perpetrators, including the pawns. But this must be done very promptly, as soon as possible. Naturally, this cannot happen overnight. No prosecutor would perceive this as meddling,” Çelik said.

He stressed that the government was paying the utmost attention “so that the country does not fall into trouble in the international arena because of mistakes in the conduct of fair trials, procedural rules and other details.”

The 17 suspects rounded up in the latest wave of detentions were handed over to prosecutors for questioning yesterday. They include six acting officers, 10 retired soldiers and a civilian employee of the military. The arrest warrant included another retired soldier who is currently abroad. A total of 36 people have been jailed so far pending trial since the probe began last month.

Turkey, coup, arrest