There are currently 276 suspects on trial in the Ergenekon case. A full 576 hearings have already been held, and for these hearings there have been 39,000 pages of notes taken. When the case first began, it was alleged already predicted that due to the number of witnesses and the sheer volume of the allegations and the related documents, the case would go on for years. For Turkey, it was a comparatively very short period of time between when the list of allegations was announced and the prosecutor's office began to investigate the claims. The speed surprised everyone.
The case is one in which people from the armed forces General Staff headquarters to active generals are being accused of being “members of a terror organization.” The phrase “terror organization” refers to attempts to use armed forces for political purposes, the aim being to carry out coups d'etat. The vehicle in question is the armed forces. The terror organization being referred to here is essentially the junta, put together to carry out a coup.
It appears that the Ergenekon case has allowed Turkey to close the door on its era of coups. But has it really? Before court decisions could even be rendered, the Ergenekon case has elicited political results. The recent visit by the prime minister to retired Gen. Ergin Saygun, convicted of being part of a coup plot, as well as the expectations created by the upcoming 4th Judicial package, are proof that state power has passed entirely into the hands of the democratic authority in this country. As for the shifting balances in the polarization caused by this case, these have reflected the changes taking place in Turkey itself. As for the suspects in the Ergenekon case, they no longer hold any hope other than the possibility of the ruling government issuing amnesty. As for the ranks of the military, coups are no longer an attractive option. We now have a military which would never even think of carrying out a coup. All of which means that the power struggles within the Turkish state have changed. The main arena now includes only democratic actors.
All of which is why there is not a great deal of interest and curiosity about the formal study by the prosecutor's office on the essence of the case. The justice system has signed off on an incredible piece of work. A cold-blooded piece of justice, work and trial was carried off in the face of factions of the public that support coup-making military members, as well as certain political parties and societal leaders. And despite the heavy pressures that were created, no one took any steps backwards.
Six years ago, when we were all debating the April 27 e-memorandum from the military, we thought military intervention into the political arena could only be prevented through a tough stance by the ruling powers. It turned out not to be enough. What we have learned through the course of the Ergenekon trial has been that the real power lies with the justice system. And as this Ergenekon trial approaches its end, the courts are what will wind up putting the final note on the nearly 50 year era of coups in Turkey.