Released ex-army chief Başbuğ attends demonstration, says other releases will follow
Turkey's former army chief Ilker Basbug (C) arrives on March 8 at Beşiktaş, in Istanbul, to attend a 'Silent Scream' gathering, organized by relatives of jailed army members. AFP photoFormer chief of staff retired Gen. İlker Başbuğ attended the “silent scream” demonstrations held for army officers convicted or under detention on March 8, a day after he was released from jail following the Istanbul 20th Heavy Penal Court’s ruling.
“As I said yesterday, my release is just a start,” Başbuğ, who was sentenced to life imprisonment last year in the Ergenekon coup trial, said in his first public appearance after 26 months of detention.
“I believe with all my heart that the other [convict military officers], innocent just like me, will also regain their freedom in the shortest delay. Be sure of that,” Başbuğ said during the protest. He also singled out retired Gen. Engin Alan, also a deputy from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) who has been convicted in the Balyoz (Sledgehgammer) case.
“I know him for very long and we have served together in many places. His absence among us is a shame for the Parliament,” Başbuğ said.
Başbuğ also participated in an autograph event together with journalists.
Meanwhile, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ acknowledged that the failure of the release of the detailed ruling on Başbuğ had paved the way for the top general’s release.
“The fact that the detailed ruling has not been issued seven months after the verdict is in my view a rights violation, because it delays the appeal process. Perhaps the Court of Supreme Appeals will rule on the release of some of the convicts or all of them,” Bozdağ said March 9.
“None of this is acceptable from the point of view of justice. Those who have not written the detailed ruling have trespassed the lines drawn by law. This cannot be interpreted as good-willed in my view,” Bozdağ said.
Başbuğ was freed on March 7 after a ruling from the Constitutional Court indicating that his imprisonment was a rights violation due to the failure by the court to release the detailed ruling.
Başbuğ was sentenced to life on charges of leading a terrorist organization to topple the government in the Ergenekon coup case.