More retired generals arrested in Feb. 28 investigation

Nine retired and active duty military officers, including the chief of the military’s »»

Nine retired and active duty military officers, including the chief of the military’s counter-intelligence unit, were arrested on Thursday.

Thirteen had been detained on Wednesday in the third wave of detentions that came as part of the investigation into the Feb. 28, 1997 unarmed military intervention, which resulted in the resignation of the coalition government in June of the same year.

Most of the military officers detained on Wednesday were taken on Thursday to the Ankara Courthouse, where they testified to prosecutors.

Seven of the detainees are retired officers, while six are currently on active duty. They are all accused of involvement in the Western Study Group (BÇG), the military clique that staged the Feb. 28 coup. The arrested include former gendarmerie commander Gen. Fevzi Türkeri and retired Gen. Yıldırım Türker.

The Ankara 12th High Criminal Court had issued arrest warrants for the 13 suspects. The operations were carried out by the anti-terrorism units of the police departments in Ankara, İzmir, İstanbul and Kars. Among those arrested are five colonels and a senior sergeant. Specially Authorized Prosecutors Mustafa Bilgili and Kemal Çetin are conducting the investigation.

During the Feb. 28 coup era, Türker was the head of the General Staff’s counter-intelligence and security department. He is remembered for his frequent briefings of the media on what he perceived as the growing threat of Islamic reactionaryism. Türker served at the time as head of the personnel department of the General Staff. Currently, he is head of the military-affiliated private corporation the Turkish Armed Forces Assistance Center (OYAK).

Police in Ankara also searched the homes of Türkeri and Türker. A number of CDs, documents and other items were seized.

With these latest suspects, the total number of retired and active duty officers who have been detained in connection with the investigation so far has reached 55.

April 21, Saturday

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan rejected charges he sought to inflame sectarian divisions in Iraq with recent criticism of its government and accused his Iraqi counterpart of trying to gain “prestige” in an escalating war of words between the neighbors. Erdoğan added fuel to an escalating war of words between Turkey and Iraq by slamming his Iraqi counterpart, Nouri al-Maliki, over his remarks in which he said Turkey is becoming a hostile state in the region due to its policies, noting that Turkey still has brotherly relations with all sects and ethnicities in Iraq despite Maliki’s enmity toward Turkey. “Maliki’s attitude cannot damage our relations with our Iraqi brothers,” Erdoğan said.

Retired Maj. Gen. Erol Özkasnak, who was arrested as part of a probe into the Feb. 28, 1997 postmodern coup, testified that the psychological campaign to discredit the government and the Hizmet (Gülen) movement during the coup was conducted by the military.

April 22, Sunday

Speaking at a meeting in Erzurum, where the new constitution was discussed, Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek expressed the country’s hope that a new constitution will be written by the end of 2012.

The number of young people with disabilities who receive an education has increased by 144 percent over the last three years thanks to the positive results of a campaign called Education Enables that was launched with the support of first lady Hayrünnisa Gül in 2009.

A new document, which was revealed in a search conducted by prosecutors at the provincial Gendarmerie Command in the northwestern province of Düzce last week, indicates that in 2011, the military continued to categorize bureaucrats and civil servants in the province by their political and ideological beliefs, meaning that ongoing military coup probes have not changed the coup-era practices of the military.

April 23, Monday

The chief of General Staff has said the military is not hiding documents or relevant information from a parliamentary commission tasked with investigating a deadly airstrike on the Turkish-Iraqi border on smugglers suspected of being members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Gen. Necdet Özel told reporters during a reception hosted by Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek marking National Sovereignty and Children’s Day that they have submitted all evidence to Parliament’s Human Rights Commission.

Nineteen years after the death of former President Turgut Özal, known for his reformist policies that paved the way for a more democratic and liberal Turkey, his close friends and aides shed light on Özal’s approach to the Armenian issue. When he became prime minister in 1983, the Armenian issue was one of the topics on his agenda. Behind closed doors, Özal defended the idea of holding negotiations with Armenians to settle a dispute that has had great potential to deal a serious blow to Turkish interests in international politics. However, he faced tough challenges as the terrorist Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA) intensified its brazen attacks on Turkish diplomats abroad in the early 1980s.

Retired Gen. Çevik Bir, currently in jail as part of a probe into the Feb. 28, 1997 military coup, planned to stage another coup in 1998, a former captain revealed. Özcan Tozlu, who spoke to Today’s Zaman, said Bir was planning to stage another coup and establish a regime similar to the one established by Gen. Kenan Evren, who is currently facing trial as the chief perpetrator of the 1980 coup d’état that led to thousands of disappearances in custody, executions, deportations and immense pain for many ordinary people.

April 24, Tuesday

The Journalists and Writers Foundation (GYV) released a statement in response to various allegations circulating in the media that Fethullah Gülen, a well-respected Turkish Islamic scholar, supported the Feb. 28, 1997 unarmed intervention, dismissing such claims as a major distortion of the truth. The statement, posted on the foundation’s website, offers an explanation regarding the recent speculation in the press about the stance and statements of Gülen during the Feb. 28 period. The statement noted that neither Gülen nor the Hizmet movement he has inspired claimed to be perfect in everything they do. It noted that the Gülen community is open to constructive criticism and has no objection to questions regarding the movement’s stance in the face of military interventions. However, such questions should be well-meaning and posed with good intentions.

Amnesty International has said in a new report that highlights rising discrimination faced by Muslims in European countries that Turkey violates the freedom of religion and freedom of expression by maintaining a ban on the headscarf and other religious symbols in higher education.

Prime Minister Erdoğan said that military coups cannot be justified by blaming them on the mistakes of politicians and people should instead criticize the military’s intervention in politics. “No matter what mistakes politicians make, their mistakes do not provide grounds for a coup. Talking about the [sins] of politicians, not the coup perpetrators, is a reflection of a pro-coup mentality,” the prime minister said, speaking at his party’s parliamentary group meeting.

April 25, Wednesday

Iranian investors, who established a record number of companies in Turkey last year, have shifted their focus to the finance and banking sector as Western sanctions implemented because of its controversial nuclear program have eaten away at its economic maneuverability. According to information Today’s Zaman obtained from Ankara financial circles, Iran’s three biggest banks have started to work to become the newest actors in the Turkish banking sector.

Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders participated in commemorative ceremonies early Wednesday morning at a dawn service at Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli (Gelibolu) Peninsula. The grandchildren of those who fell at Arıburnu in Çanakkale 97 years ago gathered at Gallipoli for the event. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was in attendance.

The İstanbul 15th High Criminal Court accepted an indictment of 10 suspects, all of whom are employed by the OYAK Security Company, which was in charge of security at the Council of State building in the capital where a gunman killed one judge and wounded four others in 2006, following prosecutors’ allegations that footage that might give clues on the shooting had gone missing.

Former national police chief and politician Mehmet Ağar, who was sentenced to five years in prison, was taken to K1-type Yenipazar Prison in Aydın province. The former police chief was sentenced on charges of establishing a criminal organization, in a trial concerning a car accident in 1996 that exposed links between the Turkish state, the criminal underworld and Turkish security forces, often referred to as the Susurluk scandal.

April 26, Thursday

Ümmet Kandoğan, a former deputy from the True Path Party (DYP) who participated in a failed presidential vote in Parliament in 2007 in spite of a party decision against participating, said that then-deputies received threats saying they should not attend the presidential voting if they did not want to undergo the pain of losing their children.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan lashed out at claims by pro-Syrian regime media outlets that Turkey, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, has become the enemy of the Syrian people, saying Turkey is against the Syrian president’s actions, not the people.

Europe has become home to a logistical support base for the PKK, according to a new report released by the European Police Office (Europol). The 2011 report, released by the EU’s criminal intelligence agency, states that the acts of the terrorist PKK, violent extremism and solo attacks represent a significant threat to European citizens.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu defended the government’s foreign policy on Syria as he briefed lawmakers on the latest developments in the neighboring country and Turkey’s position regarding its uprising, saying Turkey is determined to lead a “wave of change” in the Middle East. “A new Middle East is emerging and we will continue to lead this. Turkey will pioneer this order of peace,” Davutoğlu said.

A secret witness codenamed Hisar claimed that Mustafa Duyar, one of the gunmen involved in the Özdemir Sabancı assassination, committed the assassination on orders from retired Brig. Gen. Veli Küçük, one of the suspects in the trial against Ergenekon, a clandestine criminal network charged with plotting to overthrow the government.

Turkey began exploratory drilling for oil and gas in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC), escalating a dispute over who is entitled to the Mediterranean island’s potential fuel riches. The move counters an offshore gas search by rival Greek Cypriots in the island’s internationally recognized nation in the south that has touched off vociferous protests from Ankara and Turkish Cypriots, according to an AP report.

April 27, Friday

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said on Friday that a counter-statement by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) following a military memorandum on April 27, 2007, rendered the government stronger for it did not bow its head before military pressure. Arınç said the government acted courageously following the April 27 memorandum, which was released during the presidential election process in 2007 because the AK Party nominated then-Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül for president, and the military has doubts about his secular credentials.

A headscarved student who became a deputy of the Turkish Student Council became the first veiled woman to take an oath in Parliament.

Parliament has adopted a bill allowing prisoners and those under arrest to visit close relatives who are seriously ill. As per the amendment to the Law on the Enforcement of Punitive and Security Measures, which was adopted by Parliament on Thursday night, prisoners will be able to get a day of leave, plus enough time for travel, to visit close relatives, including mothers- and fathers-in-law, who are seriously ill on the condition that the illness has been formally documented.

The Military High Administrative Court (AYİM), which had earlier annulled a 2010 Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) decision to not promote three generals over their suspected involvement in a coup plan, has ordered the Prime Ministry to pay the three suspects compensation for failing to implement the court’s decision and promote them.


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