Hopes high for coup releases
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
CHP lawmakers Mustafa Balbay, Mehmet Haberal and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) deputy Engin Alan are tried in a Silivri court under Ergenekon case.Suspects in the high-profile coup-plot cases will go into the coming week with high hopes of release, following recent amendments to the country’s criminal code.
One of the suspects in prison, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Mustafa Balbay, however, was cautiously optimistic going into the 200th hearing of the Ergenekon coup-plot trial on July 6.
“This is the fourth time that hopes have been high for the release of the arrested suspects. We have learned to be ready for any outcome,” Balbay said while talking to his friends before the hearing started.
Almost all the suspects under arrest pending trial in the Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup-plot cases applied to the courts on July 6 requesting release, citing the recent amendments that expanded judges’ authority to decide for trial without arrest and tightened the conditions for an arrest ruling. The courts are expected to announce their rulings on the requests early next week.
The mood of the friends, relatives and supporters of Ergenekon suspects was high before the hearing as they expected an immediate release. They were especially encouraged by recent remarks by Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek, who said the judiciary “should receive the message from Parliament,” and that the amendments left no room for a further extension of the arrest of the currently imprisoned members of Parliament.
Trying to communicate with his friends from a five-meter distance and through fences before the hearing started, a cautious Balbay acknowledged that the situation now was different.
“This time the judges might act differently; they have been left alone,” he said. “Everyone, including the prime minister and the president, is aware that this situation cannot continue.”
The trial adjourned after one witness testified, and the judges said they expected to rule on the release requests on July 9.
Journalist Tuncay Özkan, who is also under arrest pending trial, was more optimistic.“Soon we will send our lawmakers to Parliament, and then our turn will come,” Özkan said. “They [the lawmakers] will break the doors of the cages.”