Defendants demand quashing of Ergenekon coup plot case at Turkey’s top court

Defendants demand quashing of Ergenekon coup plot case at Turkey’s top court

Defendants demand quashing of Ergenekon coup plot case at Turkey’s top court

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Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals held the first appeals hearing in the Ergenekon coup plot case on Oct. 6, months after the Chief Prosecutor’s Office asked for a reversal of the rulings in the case. 

At the first hearing, the chief judge of the court pledged to offer a wide opportunity for the presentation of defenses, while suspects demanded the quashing of the controversial and long-running case. 

Former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ; former daily Cumhuriyet editor-in-chief and now Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Mustafa Balbay; and Levent Ersöz, a retired general and suspected member of JİTEM, an alleged intelligence unit of the gendarmerie, were among the suspects who attended the first hearing on Oct. 6.

“The law has been violated every day in this case. That’s why I ask for the quashing of the case on its merits,” said Doğu Perinçek, one of the defendants and the leader of the Homeland Party. 

“In line with America’s plans, the ‘F Organization’ committed this crime,” Perinçek said, describing the Ergenekon case as “the biggest crime committed against the Republic.” By saying the “F Organization” he was apparently referring to followers of the U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who he accuses of manipulating the case.

Balbay also demanded that the case be thrown out. “We want to say, ‘There are judges in Ankara.’ In spite of everything, the legal experiences of this country cannot tolerate such an outrageous file,” he said.

Adnan Türkkan, another defendant, said he was included in the case simply because he was the founding leader of the Youth Union of Turkey (TGB).

“Zekeriya Öz interrogated me when I was taken into custody. Now, he is outside Turkey as an outlaw. So I want this case to be quashed not on procedural grounds but on its merits,” Türkkan said, referring to Öz, who fled the country last year. 

Öz led probes into alleged coup plots, most significantly the controversial Ergenekon trials, during which he was criticized for human rights violations. He was also the prosecutor who launched the Dec. 17, 2013 graft probe, Turkey’s most extensive corruption investigation to date, which implicated senior government figures including former ministers Muammer Güler, Erdoğan Bayraktar, Egemen Bağış and Zafer Çağlayan. 

The sharp negative turn in Öz’s relationship with the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is related to the ongoing feud between the AKP and Gülen, who allegedly has influence over the Turkish judiciary.

Some 274 coup-plot suspects were sentenced to hundreds of years’ imprisonment in total on Aug. 5, 2013, with many high-ranking army members, journalists and academics given aggravated life sentences.

In April 2014, the long-awaited detailed ruling in the five-year-long marathon Ergenekon trial was issued, nearly eight months after the initial verdict, stating that the organization had targeted a long series of governments. The case was later reopened after appeals from suspects.