|Istanbuls chief prosecutor had filed on Monday the long-awaited indictment on the controversial Ergenekon case against 85 defendants charged with forming a terror group with the aim of overthrowing the government by force. (UPDATED)
Istanbul Chief Prosecutor Aykut Cengiz Engin unveiled the elements of the indictment at a brief news conference. The court would decide within two weeks whether to open the case.
The lack of an indictment in the operation, and the detainment of anti-AKP politicians, journalists and intellectuals without any legal charge raised eyebrows in Turkey, as many questioned whether the operation is being used to suppress opponents of the government.
The Ergenekon operation, which started in June 2007 with the discovery of grenades in a house in Istanbuls Umraniye district, is allegedly a crackdown on an illegal organization believed to be planning provoking events that would pave the way for a military coup to overthrow the AKP government.
The extent of the operation had widened since the closure case against the AKP filed in March. Although the closure case and the Ergenekon case are separate legal processes, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan had linked the two cases saying the closure case against the AKP was filed due to the governments determination in the Ergenekon case.
FORMING A TERRORIST ORGANIZATION
The indictment charges 86 suspects, including retired army officers, anti-government journalists and intellectuals, with the allegations of forming a terrorist organization, being a member of a terrorist organization, helping a terrorist organization, Engin told reporters.
The definition of terror (in the indictment) should not be taken in a conventional meaning. According to Article 1 of the Anti-Terror law, those are charged with the crimes of endangering the existence of the Turkish State and Republic, weakening or destroying or seizing the authority of the State, eliminating fundamental rights and freedoms, or damaging the internal and external security of the State, public order, he added.
Forty-eight of the suspects, including Retired Colonel Veli Kucuk and Workers Party (IP) leader Dogu Perincek, are being held in custody while the remaining 38 were released to be tried without detention, Engin said.
Prior to latest arrests, 49 people including Kucuk, Perincek and businessman Kuddisi Okkir, were arrested under the probe. The number of arrest reduced to 48 after Okkir died of cancer in hospital on July 6.
Ilhan Selcuk, a prominent leftist columnist of the anti-AKP Cumhuriyet daily, and Kemal Alemdaroglu, former rector of Istanbul University, were detained in March 2008. The two were later released on probation.
The indictment does not include those who were detained on July 1 under the probe. An additional indictment will be written for 21 people. Seven of those suspects including retired Gen. and Kemalist Thought Association Chairman Sener Eruygur, Retired Gen. Hursit Tolon, Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO) Chairman Sinan Aygun were arrested.
Some media organs, with close links to the government, have been publishing reports based on the information from documents allegedly seized during the operation. These stories had included a gradual coup plan.
Istanbul's chief prosecutor denied all media reports regarding the indictment and the operation, adding those reports create "information pollution".
Engin also said the Ergenekon operation is not related to the so-called "coup diaries", which were published by a magazine in 2007. The report, which claimed army commanders planned two coups in 2004, is allegedly based on the diaries of Ret. Gen. Ozden Ornek, a former navy forces commander.