Health Ministry probes transfer of Ergenekon suspects

Health Ministry probes transfer of Ergenekon suspects

İbrahim Şahin [Left], Levent Ersöz [Right]

February 20, 2009, Friday/ 17:28:00
The Health Ministry announced yesterday that it has launched an investigation into two hospitals for transferring two suspects who are currently under arrest for membership in a terrorist organization to other hospitals.

In a written statement released yesterday, the ministry said an investigation was launched into the Haseki Research and Training Hospital and the Lütfi Kırdar Kartal Research and Training Hospital for transferring two suspects in the Ergenekon case, the trial of a clandestine terrorist organization charged with attempting to foment chaos and undermine stability in order to trigger a coup, to other hospitals.

İbrahim Şahin, a former deputy director of the National Police Department’s Special Operations Unit, was taken earlier this month to the Lütfi Kırdar Kartal Research and Training Hospital due to a problem with his ear. He was later transferred to the Marmara University Hospital. Retired Brig. Gen. Levent Ersöz, who was arrested after months of residing abroad as a fugitive, was first hospitalized at the Haseki Research and Training Hospital for a prostate operation but was later transferred to the Gülhane Military Academy of Medicine (GATA).

The Health Ministry will examine the health reports provided to Şahin and Ersöz by the two hospitals and decide whether their transfer to other hospitals was necessary.

There is growing concern in the public that Ergenekon suspects, particularly retired generals, appear to be using their connections at hospitals to avoid trial. Retired Gen. Hurşit Tolon, a former 1st Army Corps commander, and retired Gen. Şener Eruygur, a former head of the Gendarmerie General Command (JGK), were previously released from prison pending trial for health reasons. Both Tolon and Eruygur were hospitalized at GATA at the time of their release from prison.

In the meantime, the Sabah daily reported yesterday that the Justice Ministry has taken action by examining health reports granted by GATA to a number of retired generals accused of Ergenekon membership.

According to the report, the ministry has commissioned a team of inspectors to examine the health reports, which helped some suspects in the Ergenekon case to be released from prison pending trial.

The inspectors will first examine the reports issued by prison doctors, who helped transfer the generals to GATA. They will later analyze the medical tests the generals underwent at GATA and discuss the generals’ health problems with the doctors in the hospital. Then, they will prepare a report over whether the health reports that enabled the retired generals to avoid trial were fair.

The ministry decision came in the aftermath of a voice recording allegedly featuring the voice of the wife of retired Gen. Eruygur, who was arrested last July on charges of being a higher-up in the Ergenekon terrorist organization. He was released from official custody for medical reasons in September by the İstanbul 9th High Criminal Court after he was hospitalized at GATA due to a cerebral hemorrhage.

The recording contained a conversation between Mukaddes Eruygur, Gen. Eruygur’s wife, and GATA doctor Col. Albay Demircan in which the two speakers talked about what could be done to ensure that Gen. Eruygur would not be arrested again after he was released from the hospital. The conversation indicates that Eruygur, previously thought to have been in serious condition, is in very good shape. Some Web sites also published pictures showing Gen. Eruygur inside GATA, looking healthy and standing without assistance.

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