Gov’t, army concerned over soldiers under arrest

Gov’t, army concerned over soldiers under arrest

Gov’t, army concerned over soldiers under arrest

PM Erdoğan criticizes the ongoing detentions of active-duty soldiers. AA Photo

The government and the Turkish Armed Forces are concerned about the long detention periods of soldiers as the prime minister signaled a new law to correct the problems caused by recent detentions.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has publicly criticized the long detention of army generals, saying it may be having an adverse effect on the fight against terrorism.

“There are currently 400 retired officers and non-commissioned officers. Most of them are detained. … If the evidence is indisputable, [the court should] give a verdict. If you consider hundreds of officers and the [former] chief of staff to be members of an [illegal] organization, this would destroy the spirits of the armed forces. How will these people be able to fight terrorism?” Erdoğan said, responding to journalists’ questions in a live television interview on private 24 news station Jan. 26. Erdoğan referred to former Chief of General Staff retired Gen. İlker Başbuğ, who is being tried under arrest in alleged Ergenekon coup plot.

“There are detainees who have to nourish themselves with baby food,” Erdoğan said, emphasizing the poor detention conditions of some of the retired generals. Erdoğan said he told President Abdullah Gül that this problem should be solved with a law.

Erdoğan’s remarks came after a trilateral meeting between President Abdullah Gül and Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and the prime minister on Jan. 24. Özel voiced concern about long detainment periods for the members of the Armed Forces and how it affected the terror fight, Fikret Bila wrote in his column in daily Milliyet yesterday.

Özel also complained about the lack of high-ranking officers in the armed forces, particularly at the Naval Forces, due to the widespread arrests and detainments. Özel told premier and president how the attempts to convince Navy Adm. Nusret Güner not to resign had failed.

Couldn’t find officers to send frigates: Erdoğan

Güner’s resignation was the latest episode bringing to light the discontentment of senior officers. According to his wife, Güner’s resignation was a reaction to the ongoing investigations into unfair arrests, spying and blackmailing inside the Turkish Navy.

Speaking of the situation in the Turkish Naval Forces, Erdoğan also said they could not even find officers to assign posts on frigates. In the Turkish Naval Command Forces, 16 of the top 30 commanders have resigned, been arrested or been tried as suspects in various cases, daily Aydınlık reported yesterday.

Bila wrote that the circles in the Armed Forces were pleased with Erdoğan’s remarks.Erdoğan complained that because of the long detentions, there were few officers left in the command structure in the fight against terrorism during his televised interview.

He said 232 active soldiers are being asked to appear in courts where the trials are about spying or being a member of the terror organization. The premier also said the chief of staff would have difficulty calling those 232 people to fight against terror with such bad morale. A total of 250 active soldiers, including 36 generals, have been arrested in various cases, daily HaberTürk reported yesterday.