Three former Turkish generals get 20 years in historic coup trial

Three former Turkish generals get 20 years in historic coup trial
# 21 September 2012 17:04 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. Three former Turkish generals, who were Key suspects in the Sledgehammer coup trial, have been sentenced to 20 years in prison on coup charges, APA reports quoting Today’sZaman.
Former 1st Army Commander retired Gen. Çetin Doğan, former Air Forces Commander Gen. Halil İbrahim Fırtına and former Naval Forces Commander Adm. Özden Örnek were initially given life imprisonment but the court said the three would only serve 20-year prison sentences because they were unsuccessful in their bid to topple the government. It acquitted 34 officers in the case, which has underlined civilian dominance over the once all-powerful military in Turkey.

Retired Gen. Engin Alan, War Academies Commander Gen. Bilgin Balanlı, retired Gen. Ergin Saygun, former National Security Council (MGK) Secretary-General Şükrü Sarıışık, retired Gen. Nejat Bek, retired Adm. Ahmet Feyyaz Öğütçü and retired Gen. Süha Tanyeri were also each sentenced to 18 years in prison.

There are 365 suspects -- including some retired members of the top military brass -- in the trial, 250 behind bars and the rest pending trial outside of custody. The verdict session was the 108th hearing in the trial.

Suspects entered the courtroom to the applause of viewers, who sang various military anthems as the suspects, most of whom are of military background, walked in.

Four defendants delivered their final statements on the last day. The court adjourned before announcing the verdict.

On Friday, Naval Col. Hakan Mehmet Köktürk, jailed at Maltepe Military Prison, was taken to the İstanbul hospital of the Gülhane Military Academy of Medicine (GATA) reportedly after suffering a heart attack.

Ä°smail Tepecik, a lawyer for retired Gen. Çetin DoÄŸan, the main suspect in the investigation, said all suspects should be acquitted, speaking to reporters outside the courtroom before the session’s start.

Security was tight outside the courtroom on the final day of the hearing. Those who entered the building were frisked and searched with the help of detector dogs. About 500 court viewers, 60 members of the press and 30 lawyers were allowed in.

Some of the highest-ranking former and current members of the military have stood trial in the Sledgehammer case, including Gen. Balanlı, former Air Force Commander retired Gen. Fırtına, former Naval Forces Commander retired Gen. Örnek and former generals Doğan and Saygun, who both served as commanders of the 1st Army.

The 10th High Criminal Court heard the trial. All of the sessions were held at a courthouse built on the property of Silivri Prison. Military suspects in the trial were kept at the military prisons of Hadımköy, Hasdal and Maltepe. The suspects entered the courthouse at 1 p.m.

Presiding Judge Ömer Diken and the other members of the panel of judges entered the courtroom shortly after. After opening the hearing, Diken recalled that the court had adjourned on Thursday to discuss the verdict, but said it had not yet reached a decision. The court adjourned again after the four remaining suspects delivered a final statement.

Retired Gen. Alan, who was elected to Parliament from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in the last election, is also among the suspects. Retired Gen. Levent Ersöz is another prime suspect in the investigation. He did not attend Friday’s hearing.
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THE OPERATION IS BEING PERFORMED