Court refuses to release MHP deputy, other Sledgehammer suspects from prison

July 13, 2012, Friday/ 17:17:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

An İstanbul court on Friday refused to release 250 jailed suspects, including a deputy from the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), in the ongoing investigation into the Sledgehammer coup plot.

The Sledgehammer case concerns an alleged plot to overthrow the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government; the plot was shared at a military seminar in 2003. The plan included bombing mosques and crashing Turkish jets to manipulate the public in favor of a coup d'état. The judge in this case refused requests for the release of suspects on Friday.

Engin Alan, who was elected to Parliament for the MHP in the June 12 elections, was among the 250 Sledgehammer suspects who sought release but the court rejected his request. Among others suspects who will remain jailed is Çetin Doğan, former head of the 1st Army and the alleged author of the 2003 coup plan.

In a separate decision, another İstanbul court also refused to release suspects in the ongoing investigation in the case of a cache of weapons found in Poyrazköy.

The İstanbul 12th High Criminal Court, which is hearing Poyrazköy case, on Thursday rejected requests from nine suspects including Vice Adm. Deniz Cora for their release in line with a law included in the third judicial reform package. They claimed that the newly approved reform package allows them to be released from jail pending trial.

The court said the suspects posed a flight risk and might destroy evidence if released from prison.

In 2009 İstanbul police discovered a large quantity of munitions, including hand grenades, light anti-tank weapons (LAWs), rocket launchers, Kalashnikov rifles, assault rifles, thousands of bullets and various explosives in Poyrazköy. The discovery came as part of an investigation into Ergenekon, a clandestine criminal network charged with plotting to topple the government.

The Poyrazköy indictment demands life sentences for five naval officers -- Lt. Col. Ercan Kireçtepe, Lt. Col. Mustafa Turhan Ecevit, Maj. Eren Günay, Maj. Emre Onat and retired Maj. Levent Bektaş -- on charges of “attempting to destroy Parliament and the government.” There are now 71 suspects that stand accused in the case.

In a related development on Wednesday, in separate decisions, courts in both Ankara and İstanbul refused to release jailed suspects in the ongoing investigation into the Feb. 28, 1997 military intervention, popularly known as the postmodern coup, and some journalists who are accused of being members of the Ergenekon terrorist network.

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