Controversy over Başbuğ trial growing

Controversy over Başbuğ trial growing

ANKARA / ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Controversy over Başbuğ trial growing

Ex-Chief of Staff Başbuğ was arrested in an alleged coup plot case. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

Opposition parties insisted yesterday former Chief of General Staff İlker Başbuğ should stand trial at the Supreme Council, charging that his arrest was another indication of the government’s creeping authoritarian practices.

“The Constitution says chiefs of General Staff are tried at the Supreme Council, but they are trying him at a special-authority court. You should either respect the Constitution, or say openly that you do as you like regardless of what the Constitution says,” said Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Kılıçdaroğlu claimed constitutionally inscribed processes were being overlooked and said the former top general was being tried in specially authorized courts rather than in the Supreme Council where he ought to be tried if he stands accused of committing a crime in relation to his official duties. The Supreme Council is the name the Constitutional Court assumes when it is conducting a trial in a criminal case.

Oktay Vural, deputy group chairman of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), also said the Supreme Council should handle Başbuğ’s case.

“The fact that he is being tried at a special-authority court is proof that those investigations are being manipulated for political ends,” Vural said. “The aim is to scare and bully the opposition.” 
According to the Turkish Constitution, the chief of General Staff can only be tried in the Supreme Council for charges related to his post.

However, daily Sabah reported the decision for Başbuğ to be tried in civilian court came after a related decision last year in which the Supreme Council rejected accepting a case directed against former Chief of General Staff Işık Koşaner, saying the claims were not related to his post. The prosecutors in Istanbul also took legal action against Başbuğ for charges not related to his post, daily Sabah reported.

Meanwhile, the head of the Parliament Human Rights Commission Ayhan Sefer Üstün said he could not understand why there was insistence that Başbuğ be tried in the Supreme Council.
“No one can claim that attempting a coup is within the definition of the duties of a chief of General Staff,” Üstün said, adding that the Supreme Council’s decision would not be any different than a civilian court.

Yet, others disagree and say such comparisons cannot be made since the Constitution has defined which court may judge the chief of General Staff.

“The Constitution itself says the president as well as the prime minister, Cabinet members and the chief of General Staff can only be judged in the Supreme Council,” chairman of the Ankara Bar Association, Metin Feyzioğlu, told the Hürriyet Daily News. “What Başbuğ is charged with is not unrelated to his post.”

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