Turkish PM Erdoğan says 'favors' retrial of coup cases

Turkish PM Erdoğan says 'favors' retrial of coup cases

ANKARA - Agence France-Presse
Turkish PM Erdoğan says favors retrial of coup cases

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan makes a press statement at Istanbul's Atatürk airport Jan. 5 before his departure to Japan and the Far East for a week-long visits. DHA photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Jan. 5 he would favor retrials for hundreds of military officers jailed for coup-plotting.

"Our position on a retrial is a favourable one," he told reporters in Istanbul before taking off on a tour of Asia.

"First we must establish the legal grounding for fresh trials," he said, offering no further details but adding he hoped to obtain parliament's support for the process.

Erdogğn's statement comes after a weekend meeting with Metin Feyzioglu, head of of the Union of Bar Associations (TBB), who submitted proposals to clear the way for the retrial of jailed officers.

Feyzioğlu announced that the Bar Associations would start working in cooperation with the Justice Ministry to prepare a concrete proposal, expressing hope that this would be ready after Erdoğan returns from a week-long visit to the Far East. 

The new development comes after the military command requested a review of the mass trials, including the Ergenekon and the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) cases, that sent hundreds of officers behind bars in 2012 and 2013, arguing that some of the evidence against them was fabricated.

Erdoğan's move comes as his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is embroiled in a bitter feud with the movement of the Islamic Scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose followers are known to wield influence across the police and the judiciary.

A huge corruption scandal which has implicated the sons of three ministers last month, with local elections looming in March.

Observers say Gülen's movement appears to have orchestrated the graft probe.

Erdoğan, battling one of the most serious challenges to his 11-year rule against a once ally movement, reacted by purging the police.

He claims the corruption investigation is a plot by internal and foreign enemies to "assassinate the national will" and topple his government.

Former army chief General Ilker Basbuğ was jailed for life at the verdict of the Ergenekon trial and scores of army officers, journalists and lawyers were imprisoned for their role for alleged plot to topple Erdoğan's government.

He is expected to hold talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday and is also due to meet Emperor Akihito.