Former Turkish commander accuses comrade of being ‘irrational’ in coup plot row
ISTANBULRetired Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ has accused the former Land Forces Commander Gen. Aytaç Yalman of making “irrational” statements over his role in the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plot case.
“I rejected making a defense in the court against ‘slanders’ due to my respect for the Turkish Army and my position there. For the same reasons today, nobody should expect any response from me to the ‘irrational’ claims and slanders that were published in a newspaper about me,” Başbuğ wrote via his Twitter account on Dec. 17, in a clear reference to Yalman’s recent interview in daily Hürriyet.
Başbuğ added that those who want to know his opinion about the issue should turn to pages 56 and 57 of his book, “Truths against Accusations.”
“Our stance and line is clear. Or line is straight and we stand upright. The public knows everything and everyone very well,” he also wrote as a “final word” on the issue.
Yalman had claimed that Başbuğ and Çetin Doğan, the former 1st Army commander – both working under his rank at the time – had not informed him of a seminar held by the 1st Army Commandership that allegedly featured the coup plot.
“That is to say, the seminar was held in violation of my orders. I learned about it later,” Yalman said, adding that Başbuğ had “exceeded his authority.”
“If you had done your duty, there would be a case such as Balyoz and hundreds of innocent people would not have been in jail,” he said, accusing Başbuğ of “negligence.”
Last month, both retired Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Özkök and Yalman testified at a hearing of the ongoing retrial of the Balyoz coup plot case.
The retrial of the case follows a Constitutional Court decision that ruled that the rights of a majority of the 236 convicted suspects were violated in the trial.
Military commanders had been accused of trying to destabilize then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government after the 2002 election, with plans to bomb mosques and trigger a conflict with Greece to pave the way for a military takeover.
In its June 18 ruling, the Constitutional Court ruled unanimously that the convicted suspects’ rights were violated concerning “digital data and the defendants’ testimonies.” Importantly, it also ruled that the applicants’ complaints regarding a local court’s refusal of Özkök and Yalman’s demands to testify as witnesses before the court were “admissible” in consideration of their right to a fair trial.