İstanbul court to deliver final verdict in Sledgehammer coup case
Retired Gen. Çetin Doğan (C), jailed as a suspect in the Sledgehammer coup case, is seen at the Ankara Courthouse after delivering testimony in a separate investigation into the Feb. 28, 1997 coup. (Photo: Cihan)
The final hearing of a coup plot case known as Balyoz (Sledgehammer) began on Thursday in the Silivri Courthouse and the İstanbul 10th High Criminal Court, which is hearing the case, said it will deliver its final verdict on Friday at 2 p.m.
"We weren't able to reach a verdict despite a meeting that lasted for more than seven hours due to the high number of defendants," said Ömer Diken, the head of a three-judge panel hearing the case.
"We will continue tomorrow ... when we will announce the verdict," he said.
A total of 249 suspects were present at the 107th hearing of the case on Thursday with 16 suspects standing trial without being under arrest. The court is currently hearing the final statements of the accused before delivering its verdict.
The majority of the accused have made their statements in the previous hearings, but some have refused to do so, arguing that they have not been given a fair trial.
Sledgehammer is a suspected coup plot believed to have been devised in 2003 with the aim of unseating the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government through violent acts. According to the Sledgehammer plan, the military was to systematically foment chaos in society through acts of violence, among which were planned bomb attacks on the Fatih and Beyazıt mosques in İstanbul. The plot allegedly sought to undermine the government to lay the groundwork for a coup d'état. The military, which has overthrown three governments since 1960 and pressured a conservative government to step down in 1997, has denied the existence of such a plan.
There are 365 suspects, all retired or active duty members of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), in the Sledgehammer coup case. A total of 250 of the suspects are currently detained as part of the trial. The suspects include retired Gen. Çetin Doğan, former Air Force Commander İbrahim Fırtına, former Naval Forces Commander Adm. Özden Örnek and retired Gen. Engin Alan.