Başbuğ gears up for historic coup defense
ISTANBUL - Anatolia news agency
Former Turkish Chief of Staff Gen İlker Başbuğ.Former Turkish Chief of Staff İlker Başbuğ is set to make a “historic defense” against the coup-plot charges against him, his lawyer said yesterday, the same day the retired general made his first court appearance in the “Internet Memorandum” case.
“It will be more correct to evaluate the case after Başbuğ completes his plea. We think that his defense will have historic importance,” said Başbuğ’s lawyer, İlkay Sezer.
Başbuğ, who was arrested Jan. 6, is on trial for allegedly directing the drafting of the Internet Memorandum, an alleged document calling for the General Staff’s creation of 42 Internet sites to distribute propaganda against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and Greeks and Armenians.
Fifteen arrested suspects attended the trial in Istanbul’s Silivri district, including retired Gen. Hasan Iğsız, Vice Adm. Mehmet Otuzbiroğlu, Lt. Gen. Mehmet Eröz, Lt. Gen. İsmail Hakkı Pekin, Maj. Gen. Hıfzı Çubuklu and retired Col. Dursun Çiçek.
During the trial, the court delegation rejected a request by Başbuğ’s lawyer to rule both for a lack of venue and a lack of jurisdiction in the case of his client.
Crimes committed against the state are regarded as crimes of terrorism in accordance with the Turkish Penal Code and the Anti-Terror Law and cannot be classified as military offenses, the court delegation said.
The court then decided to reject the defendants’ claims of lack of jurisdiction and their related demand for the file to be passed on to the Supreme Council, the name assumed by Turkey’s Constitutional Court when it oversees a criminal case.
The court delegation also refused to rule for a lack of venue.
“The court decision is not based on legal grounds. We will continue to voice our demands regarding the lack of jurisdiction,” Sezer said.
Meanwhile, a group of supporters appeared in front of the court yesterday and held posters saying “We stand by our soldier against the injustice” to support Başbuğ.
During yesterday’s hearing, prosecutors read out the 39-page indictment before adjourning the trial until today.
The prosecution has requested aggravated life imprisonment for the country’s former top general, who stands accused of orchestrating propaganda efforts on the Internet to provoke political unrest in the country, in accordance with the aims of the alleged gang.
An Istanbul criminal court accepted the indictment on Feb. 15 against Başbuğ in connection with the Internet Memorandum case.
The indictment also implicates Başbuğ for allegedly attempting to stymie the government by means of force and violence, according to reports.
The former general flatly denied having issued any directives in relation to the memorandum and has rejected all charges leveled against him.