Arrested top general asks for testimony of President, PM

Arrested top general asks for testimony of President, PM

ISTANBUL - Doğan News Agency
Arrested top general asks for testimony of President, PM

This file photo shows former Chief of General Staff İlker Başbuğ together with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a ceremony.

Former Chief of General Staff İlker Başbuğ petitioned for 11 high-ranking state officials, including President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to be called to testify as witnesses in the ongoing Ergenekon trial during yesterday’s hearing in the case.

“The officials whom my client has worked together with in accordance with his duties are evident, and it will become apparent if they testify as witnesses that the allegation that [my client] pressured state leaders is baseless,” the former top general’s lawyer İlkay Sezer said in the three-page petition.

Significant names
Among the officials whose testimony he requested are Gül, Erdoğan, Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek, Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay, European Union Minister Egemen Bağış, former Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül, former Chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner, former force commanders Ret. Gen. Aydoğan Babaoğlu, Ret. Adm. Metin Ataç and Ret. Gen. Atilla Işık, as well as Ret. Maj. Gen. Şirin Ünal, who is currently serving as a deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP.)

“My client worked for a total of seven years, between 2003 and 2010, with governments formed by the current political authority,” Sezer said, adding that former Gen. Başbuğ had fulfilled his duties during that period within the scope of his authority and responsibilities as defined by the laws of the country. Therefore it is distressing that he stands accused over abstract allegations with no concrete evidence to back them up, nearly two years after retiring from his post, Sezer said.

Başbuğ has not been attending the trial hearings since May 7, following the merging of the separate Ergenekon trials.

“It hurts our prestige and honor that [we have been] lumped together with those who bombed the daily Cumhuriyet’s [offices] and those who were convicted in the trial [over the attack] in the Council of State,” Başbuğ had written on Twitter. Başbuğ was arrested on Jan. 6 within the scope of the ongoing “Internet Memorandum” case, and is still being held as a suspect.

The ongoing Internet Memorandum case refers to an alleged document by the General Staff about setting up 42 Internet sites to distribute propaganda against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as well as Greeks and Armenians.

Ergenekon is an alleged ultranationalist gang accused of plotting to overthrow the government by fomenting chaos in society.