‘Secret witnesses’ shape the future of coup case: lawyers

‘Secret witnesses’ shape the future of coup case: lawyers

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
‘Secret witnesses’ shape the future of coup case: lawyers

This file photo shows Istanbul’s Silivri courtroom, which stages the ongoing Ergenekon trial. More than 279 uspects, 66 of them currently under arrest are being tried in the case. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

More than 40 witnesses, whose identities have been kept anonymous upon their request, are shaping the destiny of suspects in the Ergenekon case due to their “baseless” remarks, according to the head of the Istanbul Bar and the lawyers of the suspects.

One of the prominent suspects in the case, journalist and Republican People’s Party (CHP) Izmir deputy Mustafa Balbay, recently expressed his desperation in “facing the unlimited accusations and very limited right to defense.”

“The point we have reached in this case after the last six or seven months, is a place where I feel like I’m not being tried in the Republic of Turkey anymore. Fire was opened against us, the defendants, from a place we do not know, and the court board prevents us from moving from our place,” Balbay said on the 254th hearing of the case in the 13th High Criminal Court in Silivri Nov. 20.

Balbay also said every suspect was changing the course of the case, which contained at least 10 different testimonies regarding certain incidents.

‘Unlawful’ attitude

Ümit Kocasakal, the head of the Istanbul Bar Association, said both the witness protection act and the court board’s attitude toward the secret witness practice were unlawful. He said the witness protection act originated in Italy in order to protect witnesses from the mafia, adding that in Turkey, “suspects are in need of protection from witnesses.”

“The right to defense is violated obviously here. This is called witness terror against the suspects ... The so-called witnesses give their testimonies broadly by making irrelevant comments on Turkish politics and the court board lets them do so.

However, when a defendant’s lawyer or a suspect asks a question, the judge overrules his or her query,” Kocasakal told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday in a phone interview.

Kocasakal said a secret witness, known by the code name of “9,” stood as both a suspect and secret witness in the case and that his identity was known by lawyers and suspects alike but was forbidden from being published in the press.

Ahmet Çörtoğlu, the lawyer of Tuncay Özkan, another suspected journalist in the case, also described the secret witness practice in the case as an example of “terror.”

Charges of witnesses

The witness, code-named Dilovası, is charged with rape of seven children, Çörtoğlu told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday. He, too, added that their right to defense was violated by the court board.

“The court board has refused to hear Özkan’s defense since last year. When I told the court board that our petitions were not read, the chief judge ordered me to be expelled from the courtroom by the gendarmerie,” Çörtoğlu said.

“Street lamp,” “Pen,” “Last Trick,” “Scream,” and the numbers “6,” “9” and “17” are the code names of some of the secret witnesses playing a key role in the five-year-long alleged coup case, Ergenekon.

Identity of ‘Deniz’ revealed


The identity of a secret witness in the Ergenekon trial was revealed Nov. 6 as Şemdin Sakık, a former top militant of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and a close aide of its convicted leader, Abdullah Öcalan. The secret witness, referred to only as “Deniz,” was to testify in the 255th hearing of the high-profile trial and asked the court board to reveal his true identity. Following the revelation, former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ issued a statement Nov. 6 saying the Turkish Armed Forces were being tried for its struggle against the PKK.