Former army chief blames Gulen movement for legal injustices

Former Turkish chief of staff says Gulen movement responsible for all violations of law in cases against army officers

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Former Turkish chief of staff Ilker Basbug is seen after the Ergenekon appeal trial in Ankara

Former Turkish chief of staff Ilker Basbug has claimed that the Gulen movement was responsible for all legal injustices in cases against army officers while giving a plea statement at the Ergenekon appeal trial.

Basbug said that "Thee Gulen movement is the real perpetrator of all violations of law which are being committed.The movement achieved these through its members in the judicial system and police forces."

“The Turkish armed forces were the greatest obstacle to all anti secular movements, particularly the Gulen Movement, from realizing their bad intentions. Accordingly, they wished the army to be silenced and disgraced. That is what has happened now," he also said during his three-hour defence statement in the court.

The Turkish Supreme Court began appeal hearings for the long-running Ergenekon trial on Tuesday.

Basbug attended the court in Ankara on Wednesday to defend himself against charges of being part of an alleged "deep state" organisation called Ergenekon and of plotting to overthrow the government with a military coup.

Basbug claimed that groups plotting against the Turkish Armed Forces were uncomfortable with the idea of a unitary and secular nation-state; they wanted to implement moderate Islam and punish the rejection of the March 1 mandate.

The "March 1 mandate" would have enabled US forces to use Turkish bases from which to launch operations into Iraq during the 2003 war there. However, the motion was failed to receive a majority of votes in the Turkish Parliament.

Basbug also claimed that the George Bush administration supported plots against the Turkish Armed Forces.

The Ergenekon trials, which began in July 2008, are a series of high-profile trials in which numerous military officers, journalists, and political figures from opposition parties were tried and accused of planning a military coup against the Turkish government.

The trials created a public debate on justice in Turkey, and became controversial with the release more than 8,000 pages of indictments, and 16,600 pages of reasoned decision. It is said there are 3,900 files concerning the case.

The 13th Istanbul Heavy Penal Court made the decision to convict more than 200 defendants and acquit 21 defendants in August 2013 in the Ergenekon case. In total, there were 275 defendants in the Ergenekon trials. The court sentenced İlker Basbug, the former chief of the Turkish Army, and 63 others, including nine other generals, to life imprisonment.

The defendants and their lawyers appealed the convictions in August 2014 after a reasoned decision was provided to the parties in the case. It has taken more than seven months for the 13th Istanbul Heavy Penal Court to produce this decision, which led the defendants to appeal to the Constitutional Court claiming that their constitutional rights were compromised.

The Constitutional Court ruled in March 2014 that the defendants' rights were violated and they should be released. The defendants, starting with General Basbug, were eventually released.

The 13th Istanbul Heavy Penal Court was one of the specially authorised courts the decisions of which created controversy across Turkey. The defendants claim that the activities of the courts were connected to the Gulen movement and they were targets of the Gulen movement because they were perceived as a threat to the movement.

The Gulen movement led by Fethullah Gulen, a US based preacher of Turkish origin, is accused by the Turkish government of establishing and leading a "parallel state" composed of a network of followers who have infiltrated the judiciary, police force, and other state agencies and have attempted to take over these institutions.

The specially authorised courts, including The 13th Istanbul Heavy Penal Court, were abolished by the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in March 2014, following allegations that the courts were part of the "parallel state."

The 16th Penal Chamber of the Supreme Court was established as a new chamber to replace the 9th Penal Chamber of the Supreme Court which previously tried the Sledgehammer case connected to the Ergenekon trials.

TRTWorld and agencies