Appeals process for Balyoz to be hastened

Appeals process for Balyoz to be hastened

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin has said that the appeals process for convicts in the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) case will be quicker than ordinary cases, voicing his anticipation that the Supreme Court of Appeals’ assessment of Balyoz files will take at least four or five months.

“The chief prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals will appoint more than one prosecutor for the assessment of the Balyoz case files. The department that will assess the file will not allow it wait too much, as there are hundreds of defendants in the case. But it seems it will not be possible [to assess the case file] sooner than in four or five months,” Ergin said on a live TV show on private news channel NTV yesterday. He added that Balyoz convicts would be tried in the same specially authorized court in Istanbul where they had been tried before if the Supreme Court of Appeals rules for retrial.

The Istanbul court sentenced 324 suspects, including retired Air Force Cmdr. Gen. İbrahim Fırtına, retired 1st Army Cmdr. Gen. Çetin Doğan and retired Navy Cmdr. Adm. Özden Örnek, to between 13 and 20 years in prison on Sept. 21, on charges of drawing up plans for a coup after taking part in an army seminar in 2003.

Opposition parties and others have criticized the ruling, arguing that the ruling was based on political motives rather than legal ones.

Ergin denied the accusations that the government is happy with the rulings and said Turkey is witnessing an important transformation process. “Turkey is passing through an important transformation and change process. Turkey is tired of military coups and memorandums. Turkey should get over these,” Ergin said.

Ergin also said that a legal framework to regulate hate crime will be adopted soon, noting that if a crime is committed due to a victim’s religion, sect, belief or sexual orientation, the punishment will be increased.