Turkey’s top judicial body, the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) has requested the names of all the prosecutors involved in the Sledgehammer case - otherwise known as the Balyoz case - to further investigate the probe which was launched in January following complaints from the defendants’ lawyers, media reports claimed.
In January 2015, the HSYK decided to make an investigation on the judges and prosecutors of high profile Sledgehammer and Ergenekon trials and and tasked a chief inspector to deal with the investigation.
The HSYK’s Chief Inspector Halil Kayahan requested the roster of all the prosecutors involved in the case and their officiations on April 30 from the 4th Istanbul Heavy Penal Court, to clarify which prosecutors were involved throughout the stages of the Sledgehammer investigation with a note of “immediate,” according to the Turkish media reports.
The 4th Istanbul Heavy Penal Court replied to the HSYK on May 15 sending a list of five prosecutors including former deputy chief prosecutor of Istanbul Turan Colakkadi, Bilal Bayraktar and Fikret Secen and their officiations during the case.
The prosecutors of the Sledgehammer case had claimed that there was a Turkish secularist military coup planned against the governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party), allegedly dating back to 2003.
The Sledgehammer investigation was launched in 2010 after Turkish Taraf daily columnist Mehmet Baransu published documents alleging a coup is being planned against the AK Party government by working and retired high ranking military officers.
In September 2012, 325 of the 365 suspects in the case were sentenced to prison terms by the 10th Istanbul Heavy Penal Court while 36 suspects were acquitted. In June 2014, all the suspects were released from prison, pending a retrial following the Constitutional Court’s decision.
The Constitutional Court ruled in March 2014 that the defendants’ rights were violated and that they should be released, stating problems connected to digital data which was used to prove the accusations and not hearing necessary witnesses during the hearings.
The 4th Istanbul Anatolian Heavy Penal Court has handled the case after the specially authorised courts were abolished by the governing AK Party in March 2014, following allegations that the courts are part of a “parallel state.”
The Gulen movement, led by Fethullah Gulen - a US based preacher of Turkish origin - has been 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 defendants in both the Sledgehammer cases claim that the activities of the courts which convicted them were connected to the Gulen Movement and that they were targeted because they were perceived as a threat to the Movement.
In March 2015, the 4th Istanbul Heavy Criminal Court acquitted 236 suspects in the Sledgehammer case following the prosecutor's argument that digital data in the files submitted as evidence was fraudulent and did not constitute evidence.
In the same month, Baransu was detained and referred to court for arrest over charges of plotting against the defendants of the Sledgehammer case.
Baransu is alleged to have close ties with the Gulen Movement.
In a recent development, Turkey’s Chief Prosecutor demanded the Supreme Court of Appeals overrule the Ergenekon case which is connected to the Sledgehammer case.
The Ergenekon trials, starting 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.