Court orders arrest of 102 Sledgehammer officers
Çetin Doğan (L), Özden Örnek (M), İbrahim Fırtına (R)
A court late Friday evening ordered the arrest of 102 suspects in the investigation into the Sledgehammer Action Plan, a subversive plot allegedly prepared by a clique inside the military that included plans to crash Turkish jets and bomb large mosques at busy prayer hours to undermine the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) with the hope of eventually overthrowing it.
The 10th High Criminal Court ordered the arrest of 102 suspects, including two former force commanders. The court earlier this week accepted the prosecution's indictment against the suspects. The court judges unanimously ruled for the arrests.
The suspects who will now be arrested include retired Gen. Çetin Doğan, retired force commanders Halil İbrahim Fırtına and Özden Örnek, retired Adm. Feyyaz Öğütçü and former Deputy Chief of General Staff Ergin Saygun.
The indictment in the Sledgehammer plan mentions 196 suspects and names retired Gen. Doğan, the former head of the 1st Army, as its prime suspect. Among other things, the indictment provides details of plans by coup instigators to cooperate with certain terrorist organizations to accomplish their ultimate goal, a coup.
According to the indictment, the junta led by Gen. Doğan hoped to “benefit from” the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) as well as some other ultra-leftist and communist terrorist groups. The coup plotters used the chaos created ahead of the March 12, 1971 memorandum and the Sept. 12, 1980 coup as a precedent for their actions. The social unrest in the country ahead of these other military interventions is thought to have aided the military in seizing control of the country.
Documents detailing plans to work with terrorist groups were seized from retired Brig. Gen. Süha Tanyeri. “Cooperation with extreme leftist and communist terrorist groups” is proposed in handwritten notes.
In another document, titled “Süha Tanyeri's Plan Seminar Notes,” mentioned on page 953 of the indictment, Tanyeri also suggests cooperating with the PKK to fight “reactionaryism.” “The people who will cooperate with the PKK for this purpose should be determined beforehand,” the document states.
Sledgehammer is a suspected coup plot created in 2003 at a military gathering with the intent of overthrowing the ruling AK Party government. According to the plan, the military was to systematically foment chaos in society through violent acts, among which were planned bomb attacks on the Fatih and Beyazıt mosques in İstanbul. The plot allegedly sought to undermine the government and to lay the groundwork for a military takeover.
According to the indictment, the designation of the plan was changed from a seminar plan to a coup plan after the election of the AK Party in 2002. The indictment further alleges that Gen. Doğan, who was uneasy with the AK Party receiving the majority of the vote in the Nov. 3, 2002 elections, took the initiative to devise a coup plan, saying that Turkey would lose the “gains of Feb. 28.”
On Feb. 28, 1997, the military orchestrated the demise of a coalition government led by a now-defunct conservative party. The instigators sought to set up a national consensus government after toppling the AK Party based on Article 35 of the Internal Service Code, which stipulates that the duty of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) is to protect the Turkish motherland and the Constitution. The plan says groups that cooperate with the AK Party government, and are defined as reactionary, should be “cleared out.”
The prosecutors state in the conclusion of the document that military officers who attended the 2003 military seminar, at which participants allegedly drafted the Sledgehammer coup plot targeting the AK Party government, were also informed of the meeting's purpose beforehand. One hundred sixty-two military officers reportedly attended the seminar. Among the 162 officers are 25 active duty generals and 95 retired officers.
The document names former Land Forces Commander Gen. Aytaç Yalman, former Air Forces Commander Gen. Fırtına and former Naval Forces Commander Adm. Örnek, all of whom retired in 2004, as suspects. Col. Çiçek, who is believed to have drafted another coup plot, will also be tried in the Sledgehammer case.
Among other Sledgehammer suspects are generals and admirals on active duty, including Gen. Nejat Bek, Vice Adm. Mehmet Otuzbiroğlu, Maj. Gen. Ahmet Yavuz, Maj. Gen. Gürbüz Kaya and Rear Adm. Caner Bener. The list of suspects does not include any civilians.
According to the indictment, the coup plotters determined where to deploy all military personnel during and after the planned takeover. The military forces were set to be concentrated in İstanbul and Bursa. The indictment also states that the gendarmerie was to operate in cooperation with the 1st Army. Gendarmerie forces were intended to mobilize every province after the planned coup.
The suspects are accused of a failed attempt to destroy Parliament and overthrow the government. Such a charge calls for a jail sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
The İstanbul court's decision will greatly influence the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) meeting, which is scheduled to be held in early August. Military officers whose names are mentioned in the document will not be eligible for promotion at this year's YAŞ meeting.
TSK official policy does not allow the promotion of a military officer if he is on trial. “A military staff member who is imprisoned or is still being tried cannot be promoted,” stipulates Article 65 of the Law on TSK Personnel.
The list of the 102 people to be arrested and jailed for pending trial consists of the following names:
Hakan Akkoç, Muharrem Nuri Alacalı, Engin Alan, Fatih Altun, Nihat Altunbulak, Abdullah Zafer Arısoy, Hasan Basri Aslan, Utku Arslan, Ali Aydın, Suat Aytın, İhsan Balabanlı, Behzat Balta, Salim Erkal Bektaş, Yaşar Barbaros Büyüksağanak, Mümtaz Can, Hasan Fehmi Canan, Tuncay Çakan, Taylan Çakır, Cem Aziz Çakmak, Mustafa Çalış, Levent Çehreli, Hakan İsmail Çelikhan, Ali Semih Çetin, Dursun Çiçek, Gökhan Çiloğlu, Ali İhsan Çuhadaroğlu, Abdullah Dalay, Çetin Doğan, Faruk Doğan, Tayfun Duman, Recai Elmaz, Mücahit Erakyol, Turgay Erdağ, Levent Erkek, Halil İbrahim Fırtına, Abdullah Gavremolu, Gökhan Gökay, Burhan Gökçe, Levent Görgeç, Hasan Gülkaya, Ramazan Cem Gürdeniz, Halil Helvacıoğlu, Meftun Hıraca, Nurattin Işık, Ercan İrençin, Halil Kalkanlı, Nuri Ali Karababa, Özer Karabulut, Gürbüz Kaya, Yusuf Kelleli, Kıvanç Kırmacı, Cengiz Köylü, Ali Deniz Kutluk, Doğan Fatih Küçük, Emin Küçükkılıç, Ahmet Küçükşahin, Bekir Memiş, Bulut Ömer Mirmiroğlu, İlkay Nerat, Hasan Nurgören, Mehmet Fatih Ilgar, İzzet Ocak, Yurdaer Olcan, Mehmet Otuzbiroğlu, Ahmet Feyyaz Öğütçü, Mustafa Önsel, Özden Örnek, Mustafa Korkut Özarslan, Murat Özçelik, Hüseyin Özçoban, Nihat Özkan, İkrami Özturan, İbrahim Koray Özyurt, Nejat Pek, Soner Polat, Kadir Sağdıç, Hakan Sargın, Şükrü Sarıışık, Ergin Saygun, Bora Serdar, Ali Rıza Sözen, Dora Sungunay, Ahmet Şentürk, Ertuğrul Uçar, Süha Tanyeri, Ayhan Taş, Cemal Temizöz, Yusuf Ziya Toker, Hüseyin Topuz, Veli Murat Tulga, Bülent Tuncay, Ahmet Tuner, Ahmet Türkmen, Ali Türkşen, Mehmet Kaya Varol, Metin Yavuz Yalçın, Ahmet Yavuz, Fatih Uluç Yeğin, Hanifi Yıldırım, Recep Yıldız, Sırrı Yılmaz and Mehmet Yoleri.