Feb 28 coup case reaches to ex-top names
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Retired genereal Çetin Doğan (L) speaks to retired general Kamuran Orhon in the corridrs of Ankara prosecutors’s office. Doğan, who is under arrest for his alleged role in the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plan, and Orhon were both questioned yesterday. DHA PhotoHigh-profile military figures, including senior retired generals most of whom participated in the infamous National Security Council (MGK) meeting on Feb. 28, 1997, were rounded up yesterday for questioning as part of the probe into the “post-modern coup.”
In a fifth wave of questioning in the investigation conducted by a specially authorized prosecutor in Ankara, force commanders from the time of the military intervention were also questioned. Former Air Force Commander Ahmet Çörekçi, Land Forces Commander Hikmet Köksal, and Gendarmerie Commander Teoman Koman were among the suspects questioned yesterday.
The MGK’s general secretary at the time, İlhan Kılıç, and retired Lt. Generals Vural Avar and Kamuran Orhon were among other suspects. Retired Gen. Çetin Doğan, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) lawmaker Engin Alan, and retired Gen. Metin Yavuz Yalçın, who are already under arrest in the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) case, were also brought to the public prosecutor’s office in Ankara for questioning.
In a written statement issued yesterday the Ankara prosecutor’s office said the nine retired generals would be “questioned as suspects in the ongoing investigation.”
With this round and the earlier detentions, all military personnel who were members of the MGK at the time of the “Feb. 28 process,” except İsmail Hakkı Karadayı, the then-Chief of General Staff, and Necdet Timur, assistant to the MGK general secretary at the time, will have been questioned. More than 70 retired and active-duty soldiers have been questioned so far as a part of the probe, and 51 of those suspects have been arrested. Those being questioned are also known to be among the leaders of the West Working Group (BÇG), a group legally formed within the General Staff to fight against religious fundamentalism, with the approval of former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan.
The nine suspects were still being questioned as the Hürriyet Daily News went to press.
The fifth wave of the probe was rather unexpected, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had warned earlier that protracting the Feb. 28 probe would upset social peace and damage Turkey’s international image, calling on the judiciary for a speedy completion of the probe.
The 1997 military memorandum refers to the decisions issued by Turkish military leaders at an MGK meeting on Feb. 28, 1997, which initiated the Feb. 28 process that precipitated the resignation of former Prime Minister Erbakan of the Welfare Party and the end of his coalition government. Because the Erbakan government was forced out without the dissolution of Parliament or suspension of the Constitution, the event has been labeled a “postmodern coup” by members of the military who were involved in the process.