Turkey's opposition calls for retrial of coup cases
Supporters of the defendants in Ergenekon coup plot case hold a demostration for their release in front of the Silivri prison in Istanbul in this file photo. DAILY NEWS photoThe government cannot proceed as if nothing has happened after the prime minister’s top political adviser spoke of a “plot,” the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has maintained, while the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) called on the prime minister to expose whatever he knows about the “conspiracy.”
“Everybody knows that those who have plotted against their own country’s national army, national intelligence [organization], national bank and the civilian rule that has been enshrined in the nation’s heart could not have dealt for the good of this country,” Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s top political adviser, Yalçın Akdoğan, said Dec. 24 in his column in daily Star.
In his column leading up to the opposition’s calls for exposure of “the plot,” Akdoğan argued that hundreds of military officers who were convicted of plotting to overthrow the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government led by Erdoğan had been framed by groups within the judiciary who are now allegedly orchestrating a widespread corruption probe against Erdoğan’s allies.
Akdoğan was apparently referring to followers of U.S.-based spiritual leader Fethullah Gülen, whose members command a global empire of business, media and education interests. Gülen has denied any involvement in the investigation.
Following such statements, the government cannot move on as if nothing has happened, CHP Deputy Chair Umut Oran said Dec. 30, adding that all the related case files should be reopened.
“2014 should not be a year that the law of rulers is implemented, but should be a year in which the rule of law is implemented,” Oran said.
MHP Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Oktay Vural urged the prime minister to submit a bill for this aim.
“We would like Prime Minister Erdoğan to submit a bill, saying ‘Although I knew that these [coup] plans were fake, I marketed them before the nation, I apologize, I will take the necessary action,’” Vural said Dec. 30.
Blank check from Kılıçdaroğlu
CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu urged the government on Dec. 30 to act on the issue without losing any more time, suggesting that the Parliament could adopt related legal arrangements before it enters recess because of local elections scheduled for March 2014.
“If the AKP is concerned about a legal plot, like Deputy Parliamentary Group Chair Mustafa Elitaş said and if it wants to pave the way for a retrial via a legal arrangement, we are offering a blank check. Let them bring the legal arrangement to the Parliament, we will support it,” Kılıçdaroğlu told daily Hürriyet.
Akdoğan’s statement was followed by a General Staff statement on Dec. 27: “We are closely following the issues related to the legal identity of the Turkish Armed Forces and the developments regarding the legal situation of its personnel that will flow from the principles of the rule of law and justice.”
In remarks to Turkish daily Hürriyet, AKP deputy parliamentary group chair Elitaş said Turkey could change laws to allow the retrial of hundreds of military officers who were convicted of plotting to overthrow Erdoğan’s government.
“We will, if necessary, make new legal arrangements to stop people’s unjust treatment,” he said in a reference to the convicted military officers.
“We have paved the way for retrials by making successive regulations on the law. But the judiciary has the authority in this issue [of starting retrials],” said Elitaş.
Deputy PM dismisses possibility of retrial
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, however, ruled out any possibility of a retrial in the near future regarding the coup plot cases, adding no such eventuality was discussed during the Cabinet meeting on Dec. 30.
“Requesting the cases to go to a retrial in connection to daily events can only express a wishful thinking,” Arınç said.
“Let me tell you as a lawyer. [The matter] has not been discussed and was not seen worthy of any discussion. As far as I know, there are conditions for [going to] a retrial. These are valid for decisions that have been through [judicial] review. It cannot be a question for trials which are still in the process of being reviewed,” Arınç said. The Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals has already reviewed the Balyoz ruling, while the Ergenekon trial still awaits to be settled in an appeal.
“There are provisions that we implemented accordingly to the EU accession process in line with the European Court of Human Rights decisions which specify the procedures for a retrial. It is not possible to launch a retrial in any other way.”
Convicted officer files for retrial
The convicted military officers have long claimed that much of the evidence against them was fabricated.
Lawyer Nevzat Güleşen demanded the court retry 365 convicts in the “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) coup plot case on Dec. 27, saying Akdoğan’s remarks in his column necessitated a retrial, CNNTürk news channel reported.
Güleşen said in his letter to the court that the information was based on information taken from intelligence units, which works under the prime minister, and must be taken into account.
Former First Army Gen. Çetin Doğan, who was convicted in Sledgehammer case and who is still being tried under arrest in the Feb. 28 coup plot case, has meanwhile decided to file a complaint about a ruling in which he was handed a 20-year sentence. Doğan had already filed a petition for a retrial following Akdoğan’s statement.
Judges at both Istanbul 10th Court of Serious Crimes, which made the ruling on Doğan, and the 9th Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals, which approved this ruling, as well as involved prosecutors, police chiefs and other police department staff will be subject to Doğan’s complaint to be filed today, Doğan’s lawyer, Hüseyin Ersöz, told daily Hürriyet Dec. 30.