Former chief of General Staff testifies in court
Picture taken on August 28, 2008 shows Turkey's former Chief of Staff General Yasar Buyukanit (L) posing with his successor General Ilker Basbug, (R) during a handover ceremony in Ankara. AFP Photo
Signing a document doesn't mean approving it, former Chief of General Staff Yaşar Büyükanıt said recently during his testimony in the the "Balyoz" (Sledgehammer) coup case in Istanbul today.
"I don't think anything illegal happened," Büyükanıt said. "Signing an end report does not mean I approve of it. To think of a scenario does not mean there will be an attack."
Active-duty force commander testifies in court for first time in Turkey
The chief of Turkey's gendarmerie forces, Gen. Bekir Kalyoncu, testified as a witness in the "Balyoz" (Sledgehammer) coup case in Istanbul today.
It was the first time an active force commander has testified in an ongoing case.
Prosecutors allege that suspects in the Sledgehammer case planned to stage attacks on mosques and to stoke tensions with neighboring Greece in order to destabilize the government. They claim the suspects planned the operation in a seminar codenamed "Sledgehammer."
Court head Ömer Diken explained why Kalyoncu was involved in the case before the commander began his testimony, daily Hürriyet reported on its website. “The army held a seminar on March 5-7, 2003, and it is alleged that a coup plan was made during the seminar," Diken said. "Your signature is present under the General Staff's report on the meeting; that is why the court decided to call you as witness."
Kalyoncu said he attended the seminar as a representative of the General Staff. "The planning seminars are presented as war games. A scenario is laid out in each of them,” he added.
"The seminars take place like a theater play. A present scenario is laid out and the situation [in the scenario] is made worse by injecting hypothetical events into it. Then a solution is sought," Kalyoncu said.
"I did not notice anything unusual with the scenario at the time," he said.
Ex-army chiefs to testify
Former chiefs of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ and Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt are set to testify in the "Sledgehammer" case later in the day, Agence France-Presse reported.
Başbuğ, who served as army chief from 2008 to 2010, is currently under arrest in the "Internet Memorandum" case that centers on alleged attempts to establish websites to disseminate anti-government propaganda.