Turkey's former chief of general staff demands release over PM Erdoğan’s remarks
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet
This file photo shows former Chief of General Staff İlker Başbuğ (L), who was sentenced to life on coup plot charges, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Hürriyet photoFormer Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ, who was sentenced to life in prison as part of the Ergenekon coup plot trial, has filed a petition for his release citing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s statement that there are “gangs within the state” as proof of his innocence.
İlkay Sezer, the former top soldier’s lawyer, asked in his petition to the Istanbul 13th Court of Serious Crimes that it take into account Erdoğan’s recent statements over the existence of a “gang within state” and find “those who are indeed guilty.”
If the court would have heard Erdoğan as a witness over his statements that a group infiltrated the state, police and judiciary, then it would have been clear who is actually guilty at the present moment, Başbuğ’s lawyer said in his petition to the court.
Erdoğan, asserting a defiant tone, labeled a recent graft probe, in which two sons of his ministers are under arrest, as an ill-intentioned plot of local and foreign actors that aims to topple the government. The prime minister also vowed to settle scores with “gangs within the state” and “members of the parallel state” who prepared the plot against the government.
More than 70 police officers, including the head of the Istanbul police, have been dismissed or moved to different posts since the detention of the bribery suspects began last week.
Başbuğ was given a life sentence in a landmark verdict in the Ergenekon coup plot case on Aug. 5, 2013. The court did not reveal its reasoning and decided on the continuation of the arrest of Başbuğ as a precaution until its reasoning is released. Sezer, however, said the court had to announce its reasoning for the continuation of Başbuğ’s arrest monthly, but failed to do so and demanded the release of Başbuğ.
Some 275 suspects were given sentences in August 2013, receiving hundreds of years of imprisonment in total, with many high-ranking army members, journalists and academics being given aggravated life sentences.