World Bulletin / News Desk
Ten suspects in the ongoing case concerning the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plot on Monday refused to deliver their final statements regarding the accusations facing them to the İstanbul 10th High Criminal Court.
The suspects said they have not been given a fair trial, and added they would not continue to defend themselves. The court recently began to hear the final statements of suspects in the case before it reaches a verdict. Some of the suspects have, however, delivered their final statements.
Sledgehammer is a suspected coup plot believed to have been devised in 2003 with the aim of unseating the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government through violent acts. According to the plan, the military was going to systematically foment chaos in society through violence, including bomb attacks on the Fatih and Beyazıt mosques in İstanbul. The plot allegedly sought to undermine the government to lay the groundwork for a coup d'état. The military, which has overthrown three governments since 1960 and pressured a conservative government to step down in 1997, has denied such a plan.
There are 365 suspects, all retired and active duty members of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), in the Sledgehammer coup case. A total of 250 of the suspects are under arrest pending trial. They are accused of attempting to destroy a democratically elected government.
In Monday's trial, Cols. Ahmet Dikmen and Burhan Göğce and Adm. Fikret Güneş told the court that they do not think the court has provided them with the required opportunity for a fair trial and said they would not deliver their final statements against accusations directed at them. They argued that Turkey has violated Articles 5 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which concern the right to a fair trial, in the Sledgehammer case. Several of the other suspects agreed, and 10 suspects, including Dikmen, Göğce and Güneş, left the courtroom.
In the meantime, critics of the Sledgehammer case have stated that the Turkish military violated military rules and principles by using the names of real persons in the coup plot. “It is clear that the use of real names [though in a limited manner] during the [Sledgehammer] seminar violated military rules,” read a notice on a blog titled “Balyoz ve Gerçekler” (Sledgehammer and the Facts).
Documents belonging to the Sledgehammer plan suggest that the 2003 seminar -- during which the plan was discussed -- was a “rehearsal” for a military takeover. The documents feature the names of military officers who would take part in the takeover, along with their professional ID numbers. The names of some mayors are also included in the Sledgehammer plan.