Prosecutor seeks arrest of five retired generals over Feb. 28 coup

No detention warrants were issued for the three former generals, reports said.

Prosecutor seeks arrest of five retired generals over Feb. 28 coup

World Bulletin / News Desk

A prosecutor on Wednesday demanded the arrest of five retired military generals who were taken to the Ankara Courthouse earlier in the day to testify as part of an investigation into the Feb. 28, 1997 postmodern coup.

Three of the retired generals, identified as former Gen. Orhan Öney, Lt. Gen. Köksal Karabay and Maj. Gen. Ersin Yılmaz, were escorted by police to the courthouse. Retired Adm. Hayri Bülent Alpkaya and Vice Adm. Altaç Atılan were in İstanbul. They were initially taken to a state hospital for a health check-up and later sent to Ankara to testify under an order by the prosecutor, Mustafa Bilgili, who is overseeing the investigation.

No detention warrants were issued for the three former generals, reports said. They were summoned to testify earlier this month.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke to the media about the detentions, saying it falls within the boundary of responsibility and authority of the judiciary. “We do not want past bitter experiences to be repeated in our country. And if that's our wish, then we need to do whatever is required to prevent them from happening again. The judiciary is fulfilling its own duty. And as the executive body, we are fulfilling our own duties, and we will continue to do so,” he stated.

The five suspects were reportedly among the members of the West Study Group (BÇG), a clandestine group formed within the military in order to contribute to the staging of the planned coup, which has been alleged to have categorized politicians, intellectuals, soldiers and bureaucrats in accordance with their religious and ideological backgrounds. The BÇG was founded with the goal of fighting “reactionaryism” in Turkey.

No details were immediately available on the content of the testimony of the retired generals.

On Feb. 28, 1997, the Turkish military forced the coalition government led by the now-defunct conservative Welfare Party (RP) out of power citing alleged rising religious fundamentalism in the country. The Feb. 28 coup brought a series of severe restrictions on religious life, including an unofficial but widely practiced ban on the use of headscarves by women at university campuses and in positions of public service.

The military was also purged of members with suspected ties to religious groups and even officers who were simply observant Muslims. In addition, a number of newspapers were closed down after a National Security Council (MGK) decision called for closer monitoring of media outlets.

An investigation into the suspected actors behind the coup is ongoing, with approximately 60 individuals already arrested pending trial on coup charges.

In early January, former Chief of General Staff retired Gen. İsmail Hakkı Karadayı also testified as part of the Feb. 28 investigation. He was later released. The court with jurisdiction in the case cited Karadayı's old age in excusing him from arrest and said he would instead be kept under judicial control, obliged to sign papers at a police station every week and banned from leaving the country.

Karadayı, who is 80, served as the chief of the military staff between 1994 and 1998.

The legal action against the former military chief came after a number of former military officers, including retired Gen. Çevik Bir, filed criminal complaints against Karadayı in December of last year. The officers, all under arrest pending trial, accused Karadayı of being responsible for everything that happened during the coup period. They also said they had received an order to carry out preparations for a military coup from Karadayı.

In his complaint, Bir argued that his then-superior Karadayı knew about the formation of the BÇG and urged that the chief of general staff questioned in the probe as well. Bir claimed that Karadayı authorized all decisions as his superior, including the formation of the BÇG, citing the strict hierarchical nature of the military. Bir, the deputy chief of General Staff at the time, was the head of the BÇG.

Earlier media reports said the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office has almost completed its preparation of an indictment of the suspects in the Feb. 28 investigation, and the office is seeking aggravated life imprisonment for 86 military actors of the time. News sources claimed on Wednesday that the office is planning to put the final touches on the indictment after hearing the five retired general's testimony.

The indictment also listed the illegal activities of the BÇG and said the group manipulated civil society organizations and media organs in order to impose pressure on the government.

Prosecutor Bilgili has so far heard from 70 victims of the Feb. 28 coup. A parliamentary commission set up to investigate coups and memorandums also sent the documents relevant to the Feb. 28 coup to Bilgili. Bilgili is expected to prepare an additional indictment in line with the information in these documents.

There are around 20 complainants in the case, including Turkey's first and last headscarf-wearing deputy, Merve Kavakçı, the then-National Police Department Intelligence Unit Chief Bülent Orakoğlu and Cpl. Kadir Sarmusak.

Kavakçı was elected to Parliament from the Virtue Party (FP) in 1999 but was not allowed to serve as a deputy because she wore a headscarf. She was forcefully removed from Parliament on the day she was supposed to take the oath of office. Kavakçı was later stripped of her Turkish citizenship and deported to the US, as she held dual citizenship.

In April of last year, Kavakçı filed a criminal complaint against the perpetrators of the Feb. 28 coup. Kavakçı stated in the complaint that she was the target of malicious news stories at the time because of her headscarf.

 

Last Mod: 13 Şubat 2013, 17:57
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