Turkish Constitutional Court to ask Prime Ministry’s permission for hearing on former top soldier
The Turkish Constitutional Court has decided to ask for authorization from the Prime Ministry for the hearing of former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ in the controversial Ergenekon case.
The General Assembly of the Constitutional Court finalized a preliminary examination of the file after evaluating a verdict by the Istanbul Fourth Heavy Penal Court, Anadolu Agency reported on Oct. 12.
The Turkish Constitutional Court functions as the Supreme Criminal Court when hearing the president, cabinet ministers, members of high courts, chief of staff and force commanders in cases linked to their posts.
Judging the top soldiers requires the prime minister’s permission, according to an article dated Feb. 11, 2014.
The Constitutional Court ruled on separating Başbuğ’s case from the cases of remaining 18 suspects, which include Dursun Çiçek, a main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker who had served more than 1,500 days as a suspect in the Ergenekon and Balyoz coup attempt cases, and two other ranking soldiers, Hasan Iğsız and Nusret Taşdeler.
The Ergenekon probe dates back to 2007 when a cache of explosives was found at the home of a former military officer, who was tied by state prosecutors to what they claimed was a much bigger conspiracy.
The 2013 Ergenekon case was strongly supported by ringleader Fethullah Gülen and saw 275 military officers, journalists, lawyers and academics indicted for allegedly conspiring to oust President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. However, the suspects were then released following a Constitutional Court ruling and their convictions were quashed in 2016, with the authorities accusing Gülen of perverting the legal process and fabricating evidence.
Başbuğ, who was among those convicted in the Ergenekon case, was released in March 2014 after 26 months in jail. He and 18 other suspects were back in prosecution after a Supreme Court of Appeals decision in April 2016.
Balyoz was also an alleged military coup plot targeting the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that was allegedly drafted in 2003. All 236 suspects in the Balyoz coup plot case were acquitted on March 31, 2015, after the case’s prosecutor argued that digital data in the files submitted as evidence in the case was “fake” and did not constitute evidence.