Turkey's president, ruling party at odds over top general's arrest

Turkey's president, ruling party at odds over top general's arrest

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Turkeys president, ruling party at odds over top generals arrest

President Abdullah Gül (R) and his Kyrgyzstan counterpart Almazbek Atambayev exchange signedd agreements during a ceremony at the Çankaya Presidential Palace in Ankara yesterday. Gül said İlker Başbuğ should be tried at Supreme Council. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

President Abdullah Gül called yesterday for former top soldier İlker Başbuğ to be tried by the Supreme Council instead of the special-authority court that is currently handling the case in a move that could create another rift with the ruling party.

“My personal opinion is that the special clause in the Constitution, the one on the Supreme Council, has more validity. But at the end of the day, this is an issue concerning legal technicalities and it’s up to the competent authorities to make a decision,” Gül said at a joint press conference with Kyrgyz counterpart Almazbek Atambayev.

Gül also raised objections to former Chief of General Staff Gen. Başbuğ’s arrest, suggesting he should be freed pending trial on the terror charges leveled against him as part of a probe into allegations that the military sponsored Internet sites to defame the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Başbuğ was arrested last week in Istanbul on charges of heading a terrorist organization and attempting to overthrow the government.

Shortly after Gül weighed into the argument, AKP deputy chairman Hüseyin Çelik insisted that the special-authority court was the appropriate body to try Başbuğ on the grounds that the offenses he allegedly committed were not within the scope of his duties as chief of staff.

It was the latest point of contention between Gül and the government after disagreements over controversial laws on match fixing and a hike in legislators’ pensions. 

‘All will have their turn’

Çelik also made a call for coup plotters to be put on trial, saying, “All those who have carried out coups, or have attempted to do so, or have sought to prepare the ground for coups, must be definitely put on trial, even if they are on their deathbeds” so that “everybody learns a lesson.” 

In line with this, prosecutors should also open cases against military officials who were responsible for the 1997 campaign that forced the late Necmettin Erbakan to resign and against those who issued the so-called “e-memorandum” of 2007 when the army, then under the command of Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt, threatened to step in to protect Turkey’s secular system.

Çelik dismissed recent claims from main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu that Büyükanıt was enjoying government protection under a secret deal he struck with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during a closed-door meeting at Dolmabahçe Palace shortly after the “e-memorandum” was issued in April 2007.
“Kılıçdaroğlu is asking why that period is not being investigated. The government is not a judicial authority,” he said.

When pressed by journalists on whether the AKP would consider filing a complaint over the “e-memorandum,” he said, “I think the turn will one day come for all of them.”

Çelik said the AKP was not waging a “blood feud” against individuals, but defending democratic principles.
The Supreme Council is the name the Constitutional Court assumes when it is conducting a trial in a criminal case.

AKP derides CHP fury over probe

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

The Ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) accused the main opposition of manipulating the charges brought against its leader, in an attempt to divert attention away from mounting intra-party tensions. 

The Republican People’s Party (CHP) has “turned into a theater,” AKP Deputy Chairman Hüseyin Çelik said yesterday, comparing CHP protests to the nation-wide grief North Koreans recently displayed after their leader passed away.

“The impression they are trying to create that the government is sending the main opposition leader to jail has nothing to do with reality,” he said.

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