Ergenekon suspects resort to compensation claims to intimidate judges

August 25, 2010, Wednesday/ 16:41:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
Suspects arrested during the Ergenekon investigations have resorted to filing complaints against the judges and prosecutors involved in the probe, demanding compensation for emotional damages -- which most observers view as a new tactic to intimidate judges and prosecutors to avoid future trials and lengthy prison terms.

Ergenekon is a clandestine criminal organization accused of scheming to overthrow the government. The latest such complaint came on Monday from retired Maj. Levent Bektaş against two prosecutors overseeing the Poyrazköy probe, which is connected to the Ergenekon case. A large cache of munitions was discovered on land owned by the İstek Foundation in İstanbul's Poyrazköy district in April of last year.

The munitions are believed to have been buried underground to be used for planned assassinations of prominent figures in Turkey. An indictment prepared in the Poyrazköy case demands a life sentence for the retired major on charges of attempting to overthrow the government.

On Monday Bektaş’s lawyers, Celal Ülgen and Hüseyin Ersöz, announced that they filed complaints on behalf of their client against two prosecutors who prepared the indictment and are seeking a total of TL 40,000 in compensation for emotional damages. Ersöz said the retired major has remained in prison for the past 16 months although there is no legal necessity to keep him behind the bars.

This is not the first time Bektaş has filed such complaints. He filed complaints against six judges serving in the İstanbul 10th, 11th and 12th High Criminal Courts, seeking a total of TL 60,000 in compensation.

Observers are concerned that expensive compensation claims may intimidate the judges and prosecutors involved in the Ergenekon probe and trial and hinder efforts to fully expose the criminal gang.

The trend of demanding compensation for emotional damages began with Başkent University Rector Mehmet Haberal, who demanded nine judges to pay him TL 1,500 each for rejecting his appeals to be set free. The rector argued that the judges’ refusal to release him from prison despite other defendants being released for health reasons ran contrary to the principle of equality before the law.

Haberal was arrested last year as part of an investigation into a clandestine terrorist group known as Ergenekon, which is charged with plotting to overthrow the government. The rector is currently hospitalized at the İstanbul University Cardiology Institute due to cardiac problems.

The rector’s demand was followed by compensation claims by retired Gen. Çetin Doğan and retired Brig. Gen. Süha Tanyeri, who filed for compensation from three judges. Together the generals have demanded a total of TL 120,000. They are both suspects in the investigation into the Sledgehammer document. The document detailed plans by some military officers to undermine the government.

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