PM Erdoğan denies he ordered arrest of former army commander
Turkish PM Erdoğan throws luminous balls into the crowd following an evening rally in Istanbul's Silivri suburb, March 19. AA photoPrime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has denied that he gave an order to arrest former army chief Gen. İlker Başbuğ as part of the Ergenekon case, as has been claimed by a former senior police intelligence official, declaring the allegations to be “lies.”
“An immoral, indecent person says ‘It is the prime minister who demanded this arrest.’ These are lies from A to Z. These people are engaged in deception just like peanuts. How many times did you meet me?” said Erdoğan during a live interview on public broadcaster TRT Türk on March 19, addressing former Istanbul police intelligence department head Ali Fuat Yılmazer, who first raised the claims.
“He will pay the price for this,” Erdoğan said, praising the recent releases of top Ergenekon suspects in the aftermath of a Constitutional Court ruling. He also recalled that he had called in the past for a trial without detention with respect to the charges directed at Başbuğ.
“Those who came out of prison have not been acquitted; they will be tried without detention. All this had nothing to do with myself, nor my party. The statement that I had made regarding the [former] chief of General Staff is known,” he said.
Erdoğan also slammed a recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) which considered the imprisonment of the jailed leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan to be a “rights violation.” He described the ruling as “being far from reality.”
“This is something aimed at creating trouble in Turkey,” Erdoğan said.
'Berkin Elvan had 11 explosives in his pocket'
Erdoğan also did not back down from his severe rhetoric against Berkin Elvan, the 15-year-old teenager who died last week after spending nine months in a coma after sustaining a head injury caused by the impact of a police tear gas canister during the Gezi protests last summer.
“They are trying to designate me as the murderer of this child. But why does a child who is going to buy bread have stones and slings in his hands? Eleven different explosives and iron marbles were found in his pocket,” Erdoğan claimed, while repeating his conviction that the protests were triggered by a foreign conspiracy.
“What happened in Ukraine, Egypt is similar,” he claimed.
Erdoğan also defended once more the use of tear gas by the police.
Elvan’s death caused huge commotion in the country and increased the uproar against the government and particularly the prime minister, who has refused to voice any sympathy over the deaths of Gezi victims. Erdoğan has declared Elvan to be a “terrorist” and publicly made party minions boo him during an event last week. The boy’s funeral drew hundreds of thousands of mourners to Şişli in one of the country’s largest-ever funerals.