236 acquitted in Balyoz coup case
ISTANBUL – Doğan News AgencyAll 236 suspects in the “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) coup plot case were acquitted March 31 after the case’s prosecutor argued that digital data in the files submitted as evidence in the case was “fake” and did not constitute evidence.
“It is understood that the digital data in the file is not evidence. We reached the conclusion that it is not possible to find any relation between the suspects and the digital data in question,” said prosecutor Ramazan Öksüz, demanding that the court acquit all suspects during the fifth hearing at the retrial of the Balyoz case held by the Anatolian 4th High Criminal Court.
The retrial of the Balyoz case began on Nov. 3, 2014, after the Constitutional Court ruled in June 2014 unanimously that the convicted suspects’ rights were violated concerning “digital data and the defendants’ testimonies.”
Former generals Çetin Doğan, Özden Örnek, Halil İbrahim Fırtına, Dursun Çiçek, Bilgin Balanlı, Ergin Saygun, Nejat Bek and Süha Tanyeri, along with Engin Alan, who is now a Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy, are among the 236 suspects.
A Dec. 15, 2014, expert report revealed that key pieces of evidence in the case were fabricated, including the notes on two CDs which the report said were written by a machine, not handwritten by Tanyeri as previously alleged. Another expert report dated Feb. 17 revealed that more pieces of evidence in the case were fabricated.
All Balyoz suspects and convicts, including high-ranking generals, were released in June 2014 after the Constitutional Court ruling.
Sledgehammer was an alleged military coup plot targeting the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) drafted in 2003. The military is alleged to have planned drastic measures to foment unrest in the country in order to remove the AKP from power. The measures included bombing two major mosques in Istanbul, an assault on a military museum by people disguised as religious extremists and the raising of tension with Greece through an attack on a Turkish plane that was to be blamed on the Aegean neighbor.
An Istanbul court sentenced 331 of the 365 suspects to prison terms on Sept. 21, 2012, while 34 suspects were acquitted. Three retired generals were sentenced to life in prison on charges of “attempting to overthrow the government by force,” but the terms were later reduced to 20 years because of the “incomplete attempt at staging a coup,” the court said.