Questioning ex-chief of staff marks a first
AA photoTurkey’s former top soldier was questioned yesterday on charges of ordering the establishment of websites to defame the government, making him the first head general to testify as a suspect in front of a civilian prosecutor.
Former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ arrived at Istanbul’s Beşiktaş courthouse around 1:30 p.m. yesterday to testify in the ongoing Internet Memorandum case on a request from the prosecutor’s office.
Police took extreme security measures for the arrival of Başbuğ, who did not speak to reporters before entering the courthouse for questioning.
Başbuğ was still in the prosecutor’s office as the Hürriyet Daily News went to print late yesterday.
The ongoing Internet Memorandum case refers to an alleged document by the General Staff about setting up 42 Internet sites to distribute propaganda against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), as well as Greeks and Armenians.
Suspects in the Internet Memorandum case, including Dursun Çiçek, a retired colonel, have said a number of websites that are being investigated as part of the probe were set up with Başbuğ’s knowledge.
Başbuğ reportedly approved the document that ordered the foundation of the websites.
Gen. Hüseyin Nusret Taşdeler; Gen. Hasan Iğsız; Gen. Mehmet Eröz; Gen. İsmail Hakkı Pekin; Gen. Mustafa Bakıcı; Adm. Alaettin Sevim; Col. Sedat Özüer and retired Col. Fuat Selvi are among the arrested suspects in the trial.
On Dec. 30, 2011, an Istanbul court filed a criminal complaint against Başbuğ, whose name was mentioned in the suspects’ pleas and other documents and ruled that a written notice be sent to the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office for the relevant procedures to be initiated.
Istanbul chief prosecutor Cihan Kansız then launched an investigation into allegations regarding Başbuğ in accordance with the court’s demand.
Sezgin Tanrıkulu, deputy leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), questioned the timing of the prosecutor’s move.
“Of course, top commanders can also be questioned, probed and put on trial, but there is another purpose here,” Tanrıkulu was quoted as saying by Doğan news agency.
Despite choosing to conduct a probe into a botched air raid that killed 35 civilians last week in secret, the judiciary has openly “provided all the information available regarding İlker Başbuğ being called to testify, down to the questions he will be asked,” Tanrıkulu said.