More than 150 retired and active duty members of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) were put behind bars on coup charges in February. Many of the arrestees' lawyers appealed the decision at the İstanbul 10th High Criminal Court, which forwarded the appeals to the superior İstanbul 11th High Criminal Court. The court convened on Tuesday to examine the appeals and decided with a majority vote to reject the appeals. According to the court, the İstanbul 10th High Criminal Court was right in its decision to arrest the coup suspects.
The court also pointed to the discovery of a large number of confidential documents seized from the Gölcük Naval Command in December. The documents were found to include copies of the Sledgehammer coup plan. According to the court, the documents have strengthened the evidence for the coup case. There are currently 195 suspects in the 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.
However, the presiding judge of the İstanbul 11th High Criminal Court, Şeref Akçay, opposed the court’s decision in an official notice, arguing that the documents seized from Gölcük are nothing new and there is no evidence that the suspects committed a crime after the 2003 coup seminar. “The suspects may be accused of membership in a terrorist organization instead of a failed attempt to destroy Parliament and overthrow the government,” the judge stated.
According to the Sledgehammer 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 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, denied the existence of such a plan.