Turkey’s Supreme Court Chief Prosecutor has demanded the Supreme Court to overrule the lower court sentences over the Ergenekon Case on points of law.
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.
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 had taken more than 7 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.
Turkey’s Chief Prosecutor demanded that the Supreme Court overrule the Ergenekon Case and forwarded the appellate review to the 16th Penal Chamber of the Supreme Court.
If the chamber overrules the decision of the 13th Istanbul Heavy Penal Court, the case will be forwarded to the 4th Istanbul Heavy Penal Court.
The 13th Istanbul Heavy Penal Court was one of the specially authorised courts whose decisions created disturbance 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 are part of a “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 (Balyoz in Turkish) Case connected to the Ergenekon trials.
It already handled the case of Hanefi Avci, a former police chief, who was convicted in the “Revolutionary Headquarters Organization” case and is an alleged victim of the Gulenists.
The 16th Chamber overruled Avci’s conviction, while the 9th Chamber had approved it before it was examined by the 16th Chamber.