The Health Ministry's press department released a written statement yesterday that said the ministry had established that the doctors who had filed for transferring Ergenekon suspect retired Gen. Levent Ersöz to the Gülhane Military Academy of Medicine (GATA) had violated procedure. The statement said three inspectors of the ministry had finalized an investigation into the accused doctors.
The probe had been started based on news reports of wrongdoing by Dr. Necmi Ayanoğlu and other doctors, whose names were withheld, in the Silivri State Hospital and the Haseki Training and Research Hospital, the statement said.
From the start of the trial, retired generals arrested in the Ergenekon investigation have been accused of using their connections at GATA to avoid detention. Two out of the three retired generals who are at GATA have been released from jail pending trial.
Retired Brig. Gen. Ersöz, who was believed to have fled to Moscow last year just ahead of a wave of detentions in the Ergenekon investigation in July, was captured in January of this year when he arrived at Ankara's Balgat 100 Yıl Hospital. Ersöz, who was originally jailed in the Silivri Prison complex in İstanbul, was transferred to a state hospital in Silivri, then to another hospital, which finally referred him to GATA at 4 a.m. on Feb. 10.
Ersöz's lawyer, Ali Rıza Dizdar, petitioned the İstanbul 11th Higher Criminal Court also on Feb. 10, demanding the release of his client from jail. He claimed that Ersöz, who had been a fugitive for six months, was not a flight risk. The petition said: "A person who has no risk of flight has been arrested. My client, who came home to our country from abroad, suffers from poor health and he was detained at a hospital he was visiting for treatment. How is it that carrying out the orders of the general commander and having conversations with the president of the Judges and Prosecutors Association [YARSAV], the prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Appeals, businessmen and journalists constitutes a crime?"
The petition said Ersöz had been diagnosed with coronary artery disease and hypertension and stated that his client required treatment at a fully equipped hospital. The court rejected the appeal. Ersöz is still in the GATA hospital.
Two other cases have particularly raised the suspicion that the generals might be abusing the loopholes in the legal system to avoid trial. The former head of the Gendarmerie General Command (JGK) and former chairman of the Atatürkist Thought Association (ADD), Gen. Şener Eruygur, was arrested last July on charges of being a leader in the Ergenekon terrorist organization. He was released from official custody for medical reasons in September of last year by the İstanbul 9th High Criminal Court after he was hospitalized due to a cerebral hemorrhage.
A voice recording released on a number of news Web sites yesterday allegedly contains a conversation between Mukaddes Eruygur, Gen. Eruygur's wife, and GATA doctor Col. Albay Demircan in which the two speakers discuss what can be done to ensure that Gen. Eruygur will not be arrested again after he is released from the hospital. The tone of the conversation indicates that Eruygur, previously thought to have been in serious condition, is in very good shape. The Web sites also published pictures showing Gen. Eruygur inside GATA, looking healthy and standing on his feet.
On Feb. 8 the İstanbul 12th Higher Criminal Court released retired Gen. Hurşit Tolon, a former 1st Army Corps commander who had been in jail pending trial as part of the investigation into Ergenekon. The court cited "insufficient evidence" as the reason for Tolon's release. However, Tolon was also in GATA at the time of his release, following a refusal from the İstanbul 13th Higher Criminal Court to release him for reasons of health. Meanwhile, news reports yesterday said Ergenekon Prosecutor Zekeriya Öz was set to appeal the release ruling.