72 retired generals now behind bars after latest wave in Feb 28 coup probe
ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency
A lawyer’s photo showing retired generals resting while waiting between testimonies was leaked to the press Feb 16. The picture dates backs to the beginning of the probe and the first wave of arrests 10 months ago, on April 12, 2012.Some 72 retired generals are now under arrest following the newest wave in the investigation into the “post-modern coup” of Feb. 28, 1997.
Upon a petition from Ankara's chief prosecutor, the court ordered the arrest of 11 retired generals this week, while seven other retired generals were released under probationary conditions.
The latest important figure to be brought to court was former Air Force Cmdr. Ergin Celasin on Feb. 15. However, the court decided not to bring charges against Celasin, who was the most senior former soldier to be summoned since former Chief of General Staff Gen. İsmail Hakkı Karadayı and former Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Çevik Bir, following four hours of testimony at the Ankara Court House. Celasin was the general secretary of the National Security Council (MGK) at the time of the Feb. 28 coup.
The post-modern coup, or the Feb. 28 process, refers to a military intervention that forced late ex-Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan to resign in 1997. Suspects who have been detained so far in relation to the Feb. 28 investigation have been sent to court on charges of "attempting to annul the government of the Republic of Turkey; or attempting to partially or entirely block the government from performing its duties.
The court previously summoned former Prime Minister Tansu Çiller to provide testimony as a victim and a witness. Çiller had agreed to form a coalition at the time with Erbakan, paving the way for the Welfare Party-led (RP) government. The justice minister at the time of the coup, Şevket Kazan, a member of the RP, also gave testimony as a witness.
A considerable number of officers detained have pointed the finger at Karadayı – who was the acting chief of staff during the Feb. 28 events – as the main person responsible. One of them was Bir, who was deputy chief of the General Staff during the Feb. 28 process and who was arrested in April 2012.
Bir filed an official complaint about Karadayı in which he claimed his then-superior was well-informed about the West Study Group (BÇG), a body at the center of the Feb. 28 process.
Karadayı, however, was released after providing testimony Jan. 3 on the condition that he reports to a police station once a week and refrains from traveling abroad.