This was the first time active officers were detained under the Ergenekon investigation, a probe into an organization that allegedly planned to overthrow the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) by instigating an armed uprising. It is not yet known what offenses the detainees will be charged with.
Eighty-six people, 46 of whom are in jail, have been standing trial since October of last year on charges of, among other things, either forming or being a member of a terrorist organization or of inciting public unrest and encouraging the military to disobedience with the aim of toppling the ruling AK Party.
The indictment that led to the start of the trial, being held at the Silivri prison complex to the west of İstanbul, alleges the existence of the Ergenekon terrorist organization.
Of those currently in custody is retired Gen. Veli Küçük, whose name has also been linked to the 1996 Susurluk scandal in which links between subversive elements and the state were established for the first time.
In fact, the apprehension of former Special Police Operations Deputy Chief İbrahim Şahin, who served six years in jail for links to Susurluk, in the latest wave of detentions signaled that the Susurluk case will also be included in the Ergenekon investigation.
The ninth wave of detentions took place in the summer of last year and saw the capture of two senior retired generals: Hurşit Tolon and Şener Eruygur. Eruygur was subsequently released for health reasons. An indictment is yet to be released for those detained at the time. Tolon and Eruygur are the alleged masterminds of Ergenekon.
Meanwhile, the fact that 10 active officers -- five colonels, two majors and three captains -- were detained over their alleged links to the Ergenekon terrorist organization in this latest wave has served to strengthen the previous indictment, which established links between the group and some active officers within the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK).
The indictment in question, which an İstanbul court accepted prior to opening the ongoing trial, read: "It has been understood both from the attached documents as well as from tapped telephone conversations that the Ergenekon terrorist organization has been engaged in secret organizational work within the TSK and that there have been members of this organization who come from the TSK, from the lowest to the highest ranking (officers)."
Generals linked to Feb. 28 postmodern coup
The detention of three former generals and a number of civilians, including former Higher Education Board (YÖK) President Kemal Güriz, in the 10th wave of operations on Wednesday brought to the agenda their links with the Feb. 28, 1997 postmodern coup.
Several papers established the links of those detained on Wednesday with the Feb. 28 coup that resulted in the overthrow of an Islamic-oriented coalition government under then Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan.
This was the fourth military coup staged in Turkey since the establishment of the Turkish Republic in 1923. The fifth, and last, military intervention in Turkish politics came in 2007 in the form of an e-memo posted on the TSK's Web site.
What made the Feb. 28 intervention a postmodern one was the mobilization of an army of civilian allies who voluntarily defended the military over "fundamentalism" by evoking the reactions of the press and many nongovernmental organizations as well as YÖK and the judiciary.
The TSK carried out the aforementioned coups based on Article 35 of the Internal Service Law. The problem with Article 35 is that the authority designated to appoint the duty of protection and supervision is the TSK and not a civilian political authority.
Retired Gen. Tuncer Kılınç, detained in the 10th wave, was the undersecretary of the Ministry of National Defense when the Feb. 28 coup took place. He served as the secretary-general of the National Security Council (MGK) before retiring from the TSK. The MGK was later civilianized as part of reforms Turkey undertook in its process to join the European Union.
Kılınç is well known for his suggestion during a military-sponsored seminar that Turkey should establish alliances with eastern countries such as China, Russia, Iran and Syria. His remarks were interpreted as the TSK's shift from the NATO alliance to alliances with countries to Turkey's east.
Kılınç's name was also implicated in allegations of profiteering worth $150,000 in the construction of the General Staff Special Forces Command's Oğulbey Complex. Contractor Ali Osman Özmen was arrested and detained during trial. The names of generals who Özmen had bribed were obtained from Özmen's appointment book. Kılınç, who awarded the contract, confirmed that he had "borrowed" $150,000 from Özmen to purchase an apartment while he was undersecretary of the Ministry of National Defense.
Retired Gen. Kılınç is also well known for his staunchly secularist discourse and for frequently speaking about "the fundamentalist threat."
Retired Gen. Erdal Şenel, also detained in the latest wave, was the former legal advisor to the Office of the Chief of General Staff.
According to the Taraf daily, Kılınç was a member of the infamous Western Work Group set up after the Feb. 28 to monitor the activities of people alleged to have been involved in fundamentalist activities. He is also said to have worked to silence accusations surrounding JİTEM, a gendarmerie intelligence and anti-terrorism organization whose existence was long kept secret.
Another retired general detained on Wednesday is retired Gen. Kemal Yavuz, also known for his nationalist and hawkish stance in the preservation of Turkey's staunchly secular character. He served as the commander of the 2nd Army in Malatya during the Feb. 28 coup. Yavuz was among the retired generals who frequently appeared on TV programs and wrote articles for the Akşam daily.
Since the start of the Ergenekon operations almost 19 months ago, retired Gen. Yavuz was among the retired generals who stopped appearing on TV and in dailies out of a fear of being implicated in the Ergenekon investigation.