World Bulletin / News Desk
Two people were taken into custody and detention warrants were issued for two others, including former head of the Higher Education Board (YÖK) Kemal Gürüz, on Friday as part of the sixth wave of operations in a deepening investigation into the Feb. 28, 1997 unarmed military intervention, popularly known as the postmodern coup.
This was the first time civilian figures had been targeted in a Feb. 28 operation.
The Specially Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that detention warrants had been issued for Gürüz and two former board members of the YÖK, identified as Sedat Arıtürk and Erdoğan Özmal, as well as retired Maj. Gen. Kenan Deniz. The suspects are all accused of playing a major role in the Feb. 28 coup, when the military forced a coalition government led by a now-defunct conservative party, the Welfare Party (RP), out of power. The detention warrants were issued for the suspects in accordance with the relevant article of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) over charges of attempting to topple the government of the Turkish Republic, according to the prosecutor’s office.
Police raided the houses of Deniz and Arıtürk, and took the two men into custody in the afternoon on Friday. They also raided the house of Gürüz and Özmal, but failed to find them inside. The two detainees immediately underwent a health check-up, and then taken to the İstanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan neighborhood to be interrogated by prosecutors. The two men would later be sent to Ankara for a more detailed interrogation.
The Feb. 28 coup introduced a series of harsh restrictions on religious life, with an unofficial but widely practiced ban on the use of the headscarf. The military was also purged of members with suspected ties to religious groups or even officers who were simply observant Muslims. In addition, a number of newspapers were closed down after the coup based on an National Security Council (MGK) decision that called for closer monitoring of media outlets.
Around 60 people have already been imprisoned during the first five waves of arrests in the Feb. 28 investigation. Those sent to jail include Gen. Çevik Bir, who is known to have played a major role in the 1997 coup, and retired Gen. Erol Özkasnak, who was the secretary-general of the General Staff at the time. Özkasnak is also known to have played a major role in the coup generals' communication with the media, which was used in order to put pressure on the government to resign.