Opposition condemns verdicts in Balyoz case
Republican People’s Party (CHP) spokesperson Haluk Koç. AA PhotoAs the Supreme Court of Appeals approved of the convictions of 237 suspects in the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plot case, families of the convicts and opposition parties have bitterly lamented the final verdict, describing it unfair and unjust.
Following the announcement of the final verdict on Oct. 9, family members of the convicted officers burst into tears. Some family members were carrying banners that read, “We are soldiers of Mustafa Kemal [Atatürk],” and “We very well know that it’s Atatürk [the founder of the Republic of Turkey] who is being tried,” and staged protests in front of the court building and in front of the General Staff Headquarters, which is few hundred meters away from Supreme Court of Appeals.
İrem Çiçek, a lawyer and daughter of retired Colonel Dursun Çiçek, who is among those sentenced to 16 years, said the top court ruled against its previous jurisprudence. “The court paved the way for anyone’s conviction for 16-20 years just because their name appeared in a digital document,” Çiçek said, adding defendants being charged for the same crimes with the same evidence were given different prison sentences.
The Ninth Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals ignored the suspects’ right to fair trial, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) spokesperson Haluk Koç argued.
“The result of the Sept. 12, 2010 referendum has surfaced once again,” Koç said, implying the majority of the Ninth Criminal Chamber of the Court joined the judicial board following the constitutional referendum of 2010 which dramatically changed the structure of top judicial bodies.
CHP Deputy Chair Umut Oran, who has closely followed the Balyoz hearings, said the top court ignored reports of more than 30 national and international forensic institutes that proved the fabrication of evidence in the case.
“These absurd allegations included the fact that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) discovered Calibri before Microsoft,” Oran said. “For the first time in history of Turkey, suspects were accused and convicted with fabricated evidence that experts proved were forgery.”
Ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Mustafa Elitaş made a short comment over the rulings: “The Supreme Court of Appeals approved the court ruling and everybody should abide by it.”
The Peace and Democracy Party’s (BDP) Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair İdris Baluken, for his part, said charges against Balyoz convicts are insufficient. “The AKP has initiated a process that only concerns itself, that will only judge the political side [of the issue]. It is important that everyone who has committed war crimes must be brought before a court. Or else, trials will be insufficient, incomplete and processes that are in line with AKP’s own political criteria,” Baluken said.
'Timing meaningful': MHP leader
Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli also slammed the ruling, which approved the conviction one of the party’s deputies, former general Engin Alan.
“Nobody can explain the approval of Engin Alan’s sentence, while murderers with blood on their hands and attackers are able to walk freely. Nobody will forget this vengeful attitude,” Bahçeli said in a statement.
He added that the timing of the Supreme Court’s verdict, only 10 days after the announcement of the government’s democratization package, was a “meaningful coincidence.”
“The judiciary’s support to opportunists who line up to take revenge from the Turkish Armed Forces is a mistake that cannot be described,” he said.