Turkey speeds up judgment process in controversial Ergenekon case

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Turkey speeds up judgment process in controversial Ergenekon case
Oluşturulma Tarihi: Temmuz 02, 2008 09:24

Turkish prosecutors had prepared the indictment on the Ergenekon case, signaling an end to a prolonged legal limbo. Dogan News Agency said the court chamber that will hear the Ergenekon case will not take any other cases until April 2009. The detainees will be charged under the terror act, Turkish TV channels reported. The deputy chief prosecutor said the indictment is 2,500-pages long, and it is currently being revised. (UPDATED)

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The lack of an indictment in the year-long investigation creates question marks over the operation. The operation had started more than a year ago, and without the indictment the formal accusations are not known. Some of the detained have been held in custody for more than a year.


More than twenty people, including two former army commanders, a journalist and a leader of a business group, were taken into custody under the Ergenekon operation's latest detainment wave. Ergenekon accuses retired commanders, journalists and opponent politicians of having suspected links to an illegal gang believed to be paving the way to a military coup.    

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However the high-profile detainments revived the debate over whether coup preparations were made or whether the operation was used to suppress the government's opponents.


The indictment initially will not include the 21 people detained in the last wave of the operation, while it would include the charges against Labor Party leader Dogu Perincek and Retired Brigadier General Veli Kucuk.   


The court chamber that will hear the case will be appointed automatically by the National Judiciary Network Project (UYAP) and will not be given any other cases until April 2009 in a bid to speed up the legal process. 


The EU Commission said Wednesday that it was closely following the developments related to the Ergenekon investigation.


The EU Commission was expecting Turkish authorities to comply with highest international standards during the police investigation and the trial process in operation Ergenekon, spokesperson for the EU Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn told reporters at a daily press briefing in Brussels.


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The army rejected claims that it "approved" the detainment of retired generals even though soldiers conducted the search of a retired general's home.


The Turkish army said in a statement, under the law any search conducted on a military facility should be made by military officials in the presence of a prosecutor, and Tuesday's search and detention of retired generals was made in line with this legal procedure.


An hour before the army's statement Turkish Land Forces Commander Gen. Ilker Basbug rejected the claims that the detainment of retired army commanders was discussed in his meeting with the prime minister.


Basbug said Wednesday that the "topic of the Ergenekon investigation did not come up during my meeting with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on June 24".

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"I want to declare it frankly: The comments, implications and assessments made on my meeting with Erdogan are not substantive. The topic of the Ergenekon investigation did not come up at all during my meeting with Erdogan."


Turkish Prime Ministry also denied on Wednesday that the Ergenekon operation was discussed during the meeting between Erdogan and Basbug.


Some commentators suggested that Erdogan had informed Basbug about the planned detainment of the retired generals in their meeting held last week. One of the generals, Hursit Tolon, was taken into custody from an army housing facility, suggesting permission from the army was obtained.


"Turkey is passing through difficult days. We all have to act with greater common sense, more carefully and more responsibly," Basbug, the Turkish military’s second most powerful general, told reporters in Ankara.



Mustafa Balbay, leftist Cumhuriyet's Ankara bureau chief, who was detained in the operation, would not make a statement and would assert his right to remain silent, his lawyer told reporters on Wednesday.


“I was not informed about what the tangible accusations and the related information and documents regarding the accusation have been. I don’t know why I was taken into custody and detained under these circumstances,” said Balbay’s written statement read by his lawyer.


For this reason, Balbay said he has refused to give a statement to police until he faces the formal charges against him in court.


The Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) slammed on Wednesday the detainments carried out in the Ergenekon operation, and said it dealt a blow to "human dignity".


The method of Aygun’s detainment reminds of “coup eras” of the past, Rifat Hisarciklioglu, the chairman of the TOBB, told in a speech at the extraordinary meeting of the Chamber of Trade in Ankara.


"I condemn the detainment of the chairman of the Chamber of Trade in Ankara, Sinan Aygun, without charge. If he was invited to the police station to give a statement, he would go to the station to make it," Hisarciklioglu said.


In Istanbul around 500 people gathered in front of the Cumhuriyet daily's building to protest the detainments.






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