Colonel summoned to testify as part of Sledgehammer probe

Colonel summoned to testify as part of Sledgehammer probe

Former Air Forces Judicial Undersecretary Col. Ahmet Zeki Üçok

May 20, 2011, Friday/ 16:35:00/ OSMAN ARSLAN

Former Air Forces Judicial Undersecretary Col. Ahmet Zeki Üçok, who is currently under arrest on charges of issuing falsified medical reports, has been summoned to testify as part of the ongoing investigation into the Sledgehammer coup plan.

Sledgehammer is a suspected coup plan devised at a military gathering in 2003 that allegedly sought to undermine the government in order to lay the groundwork for a military takeover. Prosecutor Hüseyin Ayar summoned Üçok to testify on Friday. It was not immediately clear when the colonel plans to testify.

The colonel is expected to be interrogated about some documents belonging to the Sledgehammer coup plan, which were seized from the house of retired Col. Hakan Büyük in February. The retired colonel was arrested in April for storing coup-related documents in his house.

In the meantime on Friday morning, a group of military officers on active duty, including three military judges, arrived at the Beşiktaş Courthouse in İstanbul. The officers were reportedly summoned to testify about Büyük's documents. The officers were questioned by prosecutor Ayar. Two of the officers were referred to a court for arrest.

Also on Friday, the Bugün daily reported that 50 active duty military officers, including nine generals, secretly testified to a civilian prosecutor as part of the Sledgehammer case. The daily did not specify when the testimony occurred. According to the report, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office sent a notice to the General Staff, asking the staff to send 50 of its officers to testify. The prosecutor's office also asked the General Staff to send the officers in civilian attire so that the confidentiality of the Sledgehammer investigation would not be damaged. The officers were questioned by specially authorized prosecutor Mustafa Bilgili.

The officers reportedly testified about a large number of confidential documents seized at the Gölcük Naval Command last year.

İstanbul police searched the Gölcük Naval Command in early December of last year and discovered a large number of confidential documents under the tiles of the floor of the intelligence department. An examination of the documents showed they largely deal with the Sledgehammer plan. The documents are believed to have been compiled as part of a prostitution racket accused of using blackmail to extract vital state security information from high-ranking military officers and senior bureaucrats with the intention of selling it to foreign intelligence services.

There are currently 195 suspects in the Sledgehammer case, all of whom 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.

Sağdıç's lawyer asks court to reject new indictment

The lawyer of Vice Adm. Kadir Sağdıç has asked the İstanbul 12th High Criminal Court to reject a new indictment, which seeks long prison sentences for 10 suspects who are accused of links to coup-related documents seized from the Gölcük Naval Command.

The indictment was submitted to the court on Thursday by specially authorized prosecutor Hüseyin Aksoy. The document demands two life sentences without the possibility of parole for five of the suspects, including Sağdıç. The suspects are accused of attempting to destroy Parliament and the government. The indictment in addition seeks up to 10 years in prison for each of the remaining five suspects on charges of membership in an armed terrorist organization.

The new indictment is 100-pages long. The court has 15 days to examine the indictment and decide whether to accept it or return it to the prosecutor for a more detailed work.

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