The Supreme Court, Balyoz and ‘compatibility with the course of life…’

The Supreme Court, Balyoz and ‘compatibility with the course of life…’

While reading the justification section of the verdict of the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) case of the Penal Department No. 9 of the Supreme Court of Appeals, one of the criteria that will come up is the concept of “compatibility with the course of life [hayatın akışına uygunluk].”

The high court is responding to the argument of the defense that the digital evidence in the file was “fabricated.” One of these counterviews is that this evidence is “in congruence with the facts of life.” 

As the Supreme Court agreed that this evidence was “in compliance with the course of life,” and approved the imprisonment sentences of 327 of the 361 defendants as ruled by the lower court. 

On the 26th page of the justified decision, it said “the digital evidence that the verdicts were based on have valid grounds, they remain representing the incidents they are related to … are in compliance with the acceptance announced, the course of life, and with reason and logic. They are therefore considered as legal evidence that the verdict is based upon.” 

The Supreme Court also emphasizes in its justified verdict that the entire work done within the framework of the coup planning is in accordance with “the political conjuncture regarding the date of the crime.” The argument that the evidence is “in compliance with the facts of life” reminded me of a file that I have evaluated as problematic since the beginning of the Balyoz case. This is a digital document titled, “Balyoz Security Operation Plan,” which should be regarded as the “constitution” of the Balyoz plan. This document, which had been formed as a Word document, contains explanations of the “reasons” why the coup plotters were planning to forcibly seize the administration of the country.

The person named as the “Commander of the Balyoz Martial Law” is the then Commander of the First Army, General Çetin Doğan, however, the document where this is written does not have an original, or “wet,” signature. 

Now, let us see the date of the document before we go on to inspect whether it is “in compliance with life” and political conjuncture. The date is Dec. 2, 2002. In other words, we are talking about a document that was prepared just one month after the Nov. 3 elections that year. 

If you can remember, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had a political ban at that date. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer assigned Abdullah Gül to form the government, and this assigning was done on Nov. 16. Gül’s list of the government members were approved by Sezer on Nov. 18. After the reading of the government program and relevant debates, the Gül Cabinet received its vote of confidence at Parliament on Nov. 28. 

According to the case file, the Balyoz Operation Plan, dated Dec. 2, 2002, was prepared exactly five days after Gül received the vote of confidence. In the document, the “justifications” for the coup were cited in precise terms, such as: “Capital in the private sector has started changing hands, the pro-government and the pro-reactionary media are strengthening, while the government is trying to make the media, nongovernmental organizations and the bureaucracy dependent on itself.” 

One of the most outstanding aspects of the document comes in this sentence on the third page: “Social opposition has been oppressed; the opposition media has been silenced by way of economic and financial auditing threats.” 

It does not “comply with the course of life” that all these negativities listed are squeezed into the five days right after the government received its vote of confidence. For example, the Doğan Group becoming the target of tax fines as a result of financial auditing is a situation that occurred around the beginning of the year 2009. As a matter of fact, there are several situations within the digital documents that do not look congruent of the facts of life. For example, the existence of incidents that happened or establishments that were formed in years later than the March 5, 2003-dated documents, which were found in CD number 11. There are lists in this CD, dated 2003, where various staff from public agencies are assigned to take part in the coup. However, some of those staff members, who are identified as working in corporations such as ASELSAN and TÜBİTAK, were proven to have started their jobs between 2004 and 2007. There are countless similar examples. 

If “being congruent to the facts of life” is to be used as a criterion, then the Supreme Court of Appeals, I think, should provide convincing explanations in its justified decision as to how it finds contradictions such as these compatible with the course of life. 

Sedat Ergin is a columnist for daily Hürriyet in which this piece was published on Oct. 16. It was translated into English by the Daily News staff.