Senior Turkish army generals give coup testimony
Former Chief of General Staff Büyükanıt is heard as a witness in a coup case. DAILY NEWS photoTwo former chiefs of staff and Turkey’s current gendarmerie commander vehemently denied allegations of a coup plot in an army seminar while testifying March 2 as witnesses at an Istanbul court as part of the ongoing “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) trials.
“We first asked legal experts to examine the report [on the army seminar], before presenting it to the Chief of Staff. [They] concluded that nothing unlawful occurred [at the seminar] after examining its contents. Within the scope of a war, scenarios are created and played out, but that does not mean that country will be attacked. I can say [the report] fell within this scope,” former General Chief of Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt told the court March 2.
Turkey’s current Gendarmerie force commander, Gen. Bekir Kalyoncu, also testified in relation to the case, marking the first time in the country’s history that an active-duty force commander had testified before a court.
“I signed the report. To sign the [final] report [on the army seminar] does not mean its contents were approved. [One] considers whether the report was properly prepared in line with the General Staff’s procedures. The report was then presented to the chief of staff. This is routine procedure,” said Büyükanıt, who was serving as the deputy chief of staff during the seminar, which was held March 5-7, 2003.
Büyükanıt also said “reactionism” was perceived as a threat to secularism in 2003, but that terrorism constitutes the foremost threat at the moment, according to Doğan news agency.
“The planned seminar was executed as if it were a game. There was a script according to which the [simulated] situation grew progressively worse. I did not notice [anything] out of the ordinary in the report,” Kalyoncu told the court.
They had participated in the seminar, which was organized by the First Army Command, on behalf of the General Staff and compiled the observers’ assessments into a report, Kalyoncu said, adding that he had signed the report in compliance with military hierarchy.
“On March 20, the United States had started a war [against] Iraq. It was a very intense period. I merely looked into whether the army that organized the seminar had [put forth] any demands,” Kalyoncu said.
“The General Staff never lies,” former General Chief of Staff İlker Başbuğ, who is currently being held under arrest within the scope of the ongoing internet memorandum case, told the court in his testimony.
Balyoz is an alleged military coup plot against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) said to have been planned in 2003. According to allegations, the military planned drastic measures to foment unrest in the country in order to remove the AKP from power.