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ANKARA - President Abdullah Gül gathered with the top cadres of the executive, legislative and judiciary for a lunch meeting yesterday and urged every institution to pay great attention to legal procedure, in reference to the conduct of the Ergenekon trial.
"A rigorous attachment to the supremacy of law and its basic principles and maximum attention to procedural laws will make Turkey stronger and will consolidate the public’s trust," read the statement released by the president’s office following the meeting that lasted an hour and a half. The Ergenekon case and the conduct of those investigating have deepened tensions within the state structure, exposing the government to vehement criticism from the opposition and top judges.
Critics of the Ergenekon case noted that detentions and arrests were a violation of Code of Criminal Procedure. Jurists underlined that prosecutors were obliged to invite people to testify before taking them into custody force Ğ provided they were not in a position to escape.
Ten waves of detentions were characterized by the rounding up of well-known figures, such as retired generals, jurists and journalists, in the early hours of the morning.
House searches conducted without a prosecutor, or the confiscation of property deemed as arbitrary also created an uproar among the opposition, who argued that the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, was exploiting the case to intimidate secular opposition. A search of the house of retired jurist Sabih Kanadoğlu and the detention of former Higher Education Council president, Kemal Gürüz, both known for their secularist sympathies, increased similar concerns.
Moreover, several people experienced health problems while being detained. Ergenekon suspect Kuddusi Okkır died last July shortly after his release following a year in prison, where was awaiting trial. Ret. Gen. Şener Eruygur had a cerebral hemorrage after he fell down while in custody, before being released last September. Likewise, Workers’ Party, or İP, deputy leader Ferit İlsever and Asuman Özdemir were also released due to health problems, the latter having spent 11 months under detention. Another detainee, ret. Brig. Gen Levent Ersöz, had a heart attack last Saturday.
Although the president’s meeting was in line with Article 104 of the Constitution, which gives the president the duty of coordinating a smooth functioning of powers, the invitation list and topics discussed were criticized.
Okay gönensin from daily Vatan wrote that the main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP leader Deniz Baykal should have been included on the list. The invitations initially included the Parliamentary group deputy leaders, but that was later revised. CHP's Parliamentary group deputy leader Güldal Mumcu said she turned down an invitation. CHP Parliamentary Group deputy leader Kemal Anadol, said before the summit that discussion on the Ergenekon case would render the lunch unconstitutionals. The president's office earlier announced that the lunch was an occasion to herald in the new year.