Arrested commanders condemn jail conditions

Arrested commanders condemn jail conditions

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Arrested commanders condemn jail conditions

Former Chief of General Staff İlker Başbuğ (C) was arrested as part of the ongoing Internet memorandum case, which refers to an alleged document issued by the General Staff to set up 42 Internet sites to distribute propaganda against the government. The case was then merged with the ongoing Ergenekon coup plot case. AA photo

Top Turkish commanders, currently kept in Istanbul’s Silivri Prison, have told a parliamentary commission visiting the prison that they could not accept being on trial with “terrorists” and complained about long detention times.

The Parliament’s Human Rights sub-committee visited Istanbul’s Silivri prison June 11 and spoke to former Chief of General Staff İlker Başbuğ, retired top general Hurşit Tolon and arrested deputies Mustafa Balbay, Mehmet Haberal and Engin Alan.

While the generals and deputies complained to the commission about the long periods of detention a commission member from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Malik Ejder Özdemir, argued with the prison’s chief prosecutor about prison conditions.

The former chief of general staff reportedly told the commission that he had served the Turkish state in top positions for seven years but is now charged with crimes.

“I am charged with making black propaganda against the Turkish State. I have served this state for seven years and as the chief of general staff I met with the Turkish president and prime minister on a regular weekly basis. Was I the chief of general staff or the head of a terrorist organization?” he said.
Başbuğ also reminded the commission that he had been tried together unconscionably with a PKK member in the same trial. Tolon also said he was revolting against the fact that he is being tried as a member of a terrorist organization.

Başbuğ was arrested by order of the court on Jan. 6, 2012, on charges of “attempting to overthrow the government by force” and “leading a criminal organization,” for which the prosecutor requested aggravated life imprisonment.

Tolon was placed under arrest in July of 2008 on charges of “leading a terrorist organization” and “attempting a coup,” but was later released pending trial in February 2009 due to his ailing health.
The court, however, reordered Tolon’s arrest earlier this year on Jan. 11.

During the visit, arrested İzmir Deputy and CHP member Balbay likened their current conditions to a never ending situation. CHP Sivas deputy Özdemir, who serves on the commission, reacted to the conditions the jailed deputies and generals are kept in at the prison.


ANKARA-Hürriyet Daily News

In a letter to the Parliament, jailed lawmaker Mustafa Balbay from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) raised the question of who bears responsibility for filling the deficit left by eight vacant Parliament seats.

Balbay addressed the Parliament with a letter in the first year of his election as his party launched a week-long campaign to draw attention to this issue.

“There are eight [lawmakers] absent at the [Parliament] seats in which you sit. If making up this deficiency is not your duty, then whose duty is this?,” Balbay said in his letter, which was read out by CHP’s Veli Ağbaba.

Balbay, who was detained on March 5, 2009, as part of the Ergenekon case, was elected as the CHP’s İzmir deputy in the June 12, 2011 elections. However, the court rejected his demand for release contrary to the previous examples. CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also recalled that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) had rejected the joint proposal to secure the release of jailed deputies and left the issue to the court.