Friday, August 22, 2014 08:55 [Daily Archive]

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Judiciary gears up for close look at Ergenekon
ANKARA - Jurists say the whole Ergenekon case has been conducted by committing several violations of provisions of the Penal Procedure Code. The Constitution’s Article 38 states illegally obtained evidence cannot be used in courts of law.

Judiciary gears up for close look at Ergenekon The 10th Ergenekon wave that swept up or harassed many secular jurists and writers has prompted the judiciary to look more closely at the investigation.

With the latest detentions, including two retired generals who were active during the Feb. 28 process in 1997 and subsequent years when many Islamists were persecuted, the opposition has depicted the investigation as "settling a score with the secular regime.""We cannot ignore the fact that the detained people are known for their commitment to a secular republic," Hikmet Sami Türk, the minister responsible for human rights during the Feb. 28 process, told Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review yesterday. "Can we consider this as an unfortunate coincidence?"

The Ergenekon case started in 2007, when several grenades were discovered in the house of a retired military noncommissioned officer in Istanbul. The ensuing investigation led prosecutor Zekeriya Öz to charge dozens of writers, journalists, retired military staff and others who were allegedly preparing the ground for a coup to remove the government by spreading terror.

Retired Gen. Tuncer Kılınç, general secretary of the National Security Council, or MGK, during the Feb. 28 process, and retired Gen. Kemal Yavuz, chief of the second army during the same years, were detained Wednesday. "The leader of the Islamic Welfare Party, or RP, Necmettin Erbakan, consented to the measures proposed at the National Security Council meeting on Feb. 28 to protect secularism," Türk said. "Later they tried to present the MGK decision as if it was imposed on them, as if secular principles can only be agreed to by force." 

Istanbul Bar’s Association’s chair Muammer Aydın also voiced his concern that the case might be a political tool against secular elites. "The investigation seemingly started against an illegal organization, but continues with open-ended arrests and detentions. It is noteworthy that those detained include former officials from the Supreme Court of Appeals, the National Security Council, the Higher Education Council and the military," Aydın said yesterday. "No one may make politics by using the judiciary," Aydın said.

The presidential board of the Supreme Court of Appeals convened for one-and-a-half hours for a comprehensive evaluation of developments in the Ergenekon case.

Though the board did not issue a written statement after the meeting, Hasan Gerçeker the head of the court said the judges expressed their sensitivities over the recent developments with regard the Ergenekon detentions. "What we want is that everything should be in line with the laws, abiding with the principles of the rule of law," he stated. When asked why the board has avoided issuing a statement, Gerçeker recalled their status of jurists and said "Any statement would make ours’ opinions about the issue public, which is not legal." Deputy Prime Minister and Government Spokesman Cemil Çiçek denied the government was steering the Ergenekon case. "Those who argue otherwise must document their claims," he said. Çiçek said the Supreme Court of Appeals’ meeting must not end with a statement, lest it hint at its members’ opinions about Ergenekon.

’Ergenekon evidence not valid’
Jurists say the whole Ergenekon case has been conducted by committing several violations of provisions of the Penal Procedure code. Associate Professor Ersan Şen said there were two main problems with the conduct of investigation. "The code of Criminal Procedure obliges the presence of a prosecutor during all house searches, confiscations, detentions and arrests. We have seen that every search and detention has been conducted solely by police. If not conducted with a prosecutor, the evidence seized is considered illegal," Şen said, speaking to the Daily News.The Turkish Constitution’s Article 38 states that illegally obtained evidence cannot be used in a trial.

"Detentions and arrests have also been conducted incorrectly. The code of Criminal Procedure’s Articles 90, 91 and 98 state that detentions and arrests are only legal if a suspect is caught red-handed, or if there is a possibility he may escape," Şen said. If neither is the case, a person must be invited to cooperate with the police. "The prosecutor has to invite people before ordering the police to detain them. Without invitation, only arrest is possible, and even so the prosecutor has to interrogate apprehended persons within 24 hours at most. This is a blatant violation of the Constitution," Şen said.
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