The 10th High Criminal Court on Friday accepted a request from Prosecutor Hüseyin Kaplan, who is overseeing the investigation, to change the court hearing the ongoing Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plan trial.
The prosecutor complained that the court was “unable to continue with the trial,” and asked it to send the case file to the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, which will pick a new court to hear the case.
According to the prosecutor, the inability of the İstanbul 10th High Criminal Court to continue trying the suspects in the Balyoz coup case is due to the absence of defense lawyers. The İstanbul Bar Association has been in the spotlight recently for not appointing defense lawyers for suspects of the coup case. Dozens of active duty and retired members of the military are standing trial for the Balyoz coup plot, an alleged systematic military plan to stir chaos by bombing mosques and attacking popular institutions with Molotov cocktails. The intended result of the plot was to increase pressure on the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government for failing to provide security for its citizens. The attacks were aimed at causing a military coup. Retired Supreme Court of Appeals Prosecutor Ahmet Gündel does not believe that the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office will send the Balyoz case file to a new court, but if it does, the trial will most likely go on for a few more years. “In such a case when new judges and prosecutors are assigned, they will deal with the case from scratch and it will prolong the trial,” he told Today’s Zaman. According to Gündel, the absence of defense lawyers in a case is not a legal obstacle for a court to deliver a verdict. “The court may ask the İstanbul Bar Association to send defense lawyers to the case, saying the judges will deliver a ruling in the absence of the lawyers if they refuse to attend the trial. This is not wrong according to the law,” he said. The İstanbul Bar Association was criticized for attempting to influence the Balyoz trial after it declared that it would not appoint defense lawyers for cases being heard by specially authorized courts, including Balyoz. The association claims that the case is aimed at suppressing the opponents of the AK Party government.