Judge of 17 years vs. five-month old judges

Judge of 17 years vs. five-month old judges

While reading the justification of the decision of the Ergenekon case last Tuesday at Istanbul’s Fenerbahçe, the words of Gen. İlker Başbuğ echoed in my ears: “There are certain claims about us which hurt us deeply. However, there are certain ones that just kill the person.”

One of the examples he cited was Hurşit Tolon: “Our friend is being charged with instigating the killers who cut the throats of three people at Malatya’s Zirve Publishing House.” Based on what? Being in Malatya by coincidence on the day of the murder… Also with the testimony of a secret witness… Do you know what kind of a secret witness? That person is a defendant and at the same time a public witness, however a secret witness on the other hand… For God’s sake, please tell me: can such a scandal happen in a democratic state of rule of law?

Several people have been released in the Ergenekon and Balyoz (Sledgehammer) cases, but the court preceding the case of the murder of three people in Malatya has rejected Tolon’s demand for release.

General Başbuğ has examined the decision of the court. He showed it to me as well. There is a serious situation there. The demand for the release has been rejected two to one. However, when you look at who has accepted it and who has rejected it, it is a strange situation. The head of the court is a judge of 17 years. He has reviewed the file and decided on the release. The other two judges have rejected the request. When you look at those judges both have been judges for only five months.

The head of the panel of judges has written his objection opinion. When you read his opinion, then you are able to see the miserable state all of these Ergenekon and Balyoz cases are in.

The head of the court emphasized that the statements of the defendant, who is at the same time the secret witness in the file, are the bases for the allegations for Tolon. Statements from a secret witness alone cannot constitute evidence, the head judge wrote.

Yes, the judge of 17 years said this. The other two judges, who took office five months ago, want him to continue being imprisoned. And thus, a commander who had served the Turkish army for years in the most dangerous places is in jail for months.

An overwhelming majority of the Turkish public believe with all their hearts that these cases are conspiracies prepared to wear away the army. But we are face-to-face with such a structure that nobody can do anything.

When justice is disrupted in a country, then there is nothing left of democracy; not only democracy, there is nothing left of collective conscience either.

Başbuğ was right when he said, “There are some claims that just kill us,” isn’t he?

It is also killing me. I know General Tolon. He may have made some harsh statements. But that’s all. He is one of the contemporary-minded officers of the Turkish army.

When there were debates about Atatürk’s adopted daughter Sabiha Gökçen being of Armenian origin, the Office of the General Staff had issued a statement harshly criticizing this story. At that time, Tolon was at the Aegean army post and said, “What if she is Armenian? This just shows how mighty Atatürk is.”

Look at the turn of fate now, he is charged with instigating the murders of three Christians based on a statement of a secret witness who has questionable traits.

An allegation is just an allegation.

Nowhere in the world in a state of rule of law, in a big country, are a commander’s life and his years extorted from him based on such a ridiculous justification.

As long as Tolon and people like him remain in prison, there will be no meaning of the conspiracy statements issued.

There is no other option either but to say “Shame on us.”