Soldiers were forced to donate to coup suspects, military prosecutor finds

June 01, 2012, Friday/ 15:07:00

A military prosecutor has established that members of units who were part of the Ardahan Provincial Gendarmerie Command were forced to make donations in 2010 to a fund covering the legal expenses of defendants in the Ergenekon and Balyoz trials, in which the suspects are accused of having plotted a coup d'état.

The 9th Motorized Brigade Command Military Prosecutor's Office rejected a complaint against a gendarmerie noncommissioned officer, E.Z., for filing a complaint with the office of the prime minister against his commanders on the grounds that they tried to force him to donate money to the coup suspects.

The prosecutor's office has determined E.Z. was indeed forced to donate money through intimidation tactics and emotional pressure. A civilian prosecutor with the specially authorized Erzurum Prosecutor's Office is also conducting an investigation into the allegations.

The military prosecutor's office further noted that the president and prime minister's offices fell outside the jurisdiction of the military hierarchy, indicating that military personnel can file complaints against superiors with these offices.

In 2010, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) sent an order to all brigades asking for support for the newly established TSK Legal Aid Fund. Although the order suggested collecting money from donors on a “voluntary” basis, the Ardahan gendarmerie command issued an automatic payment order on the bank accounts of military personnel. Most people affected canceled these payment orders, after which gendarmerie commanders decided to collect money that would be recorded and signed off on by command. This was later turned into a chart, showing who had donated money and the sum. E.Z. claims those who failed to donate were subjected to harassment. When he wrote to the prime minister's office, the gendarmerie command filed a complaint against him, which has been rejected by the military prosecutor's office on the grounds that E.Z.'s complaint was legitimate.

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