ISTANBUL: More Retired Generals Arrested In Feb. 28 Investigation

MORE RETIRED GENERALS ARRESTED IN FEB. 28 INVESTIGATION

Today’s Zaman
April 29 2012
Turkey

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 (BCG), the military clique that staged the Feb. 28 coup.

The arrested include former gendarmerie commander Gen. Fevzi Turkeri
and retired Gen. Yıldırım Turker.

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, Ä°zmir, Ä°stanbul and Kars.

Among those arrested are five colonels and a senior sergeant.

Specially Authorized Prosecutors Mustafa Bilgili and Kemal Cetin are
conducting the investigation.

During the Feb. 28 coup era, Turker 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. Turker 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 Turkeri and Turker. 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.

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April 21, Saturday

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan 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.

Erdogan 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,” Erdogan said.

Retired Maj. Gen. Erol Ozkasnak, 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
(Gulen) 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 Cicek 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 Hayrunnisa Gul in 2009.

A new document, which was revealed in a search conducted by prosecutors
at the provincial Gendarmerie Command in the northwestern province
of Duzce 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 Ozel told reporters during a
reception hosted by Parliament Speaker Cemil Cicek 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 Ozal, known
for his reformist policies that paved the way for a more democratic
and liberal Turkey, his close friends and aides shed light on Ozal’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, Ozal 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. Cevik 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. Ozcan 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 Gulen, 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
Gulen during the Feb. 28 period. The statement noted that neither
Gulen nor the Hizmet movement he has inspired claimed to be perfect
in everything they do. It noted that the Gulen 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 Erdogan 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 Canakkale 97 years ago gathered at
Gallipoli for the event. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard was
in attendance.

The Ä°stanbul 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 Agar, 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

Ummet Kandogan, 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 Erdogan 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 Davutoglu 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,” Davutoglu said.

A secret witness codenamed Hisar claimed that Mustafa Duyar, one of
the gunmen involved in the Ozdemir Sabancı assassination, committed
the assassination on orders from retired Brig. Gen. Veli Kucuk,
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 Bulent Arınc 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. Arınc 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 Gul 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 (AYÄ°M), which had earlier
annulled a 2010 Supreme Military Council (YAÅ~^) 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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