The Istanbul 10th High Criminal Court accepted the indictment related to the so-called "Sledgehammer" coup plan submitted by the Istanbul Public Chief Prosecutor.
"Sledgehammer" (Balyoz) is the name for a coup plotted by the armed forces. Apparently, a group of people mapped out a detailed plan from the end of 2002 till March 2003 called the "Sledgehammer Operation Plan. It was aimed at creating disorder in the country by bombings of mosques, crashing a Turkish jet plane and warplanes flying over the parliament, which should eventually lead to martial law and a coup.
A total of 196 suspects are facing heavy prison sentences, among them also Colonel Dursun Çiçek who is currently on trial in the scope of the lawsuit regarding the "Action Plan against Reactionary Forces", which he is supposed to have signed. Another defendant of the Sledgehammer indictment is former 1st Amry Commander General Çetin Doğan.
The investigation preceding the indictment was carried out by Public Prosecutors Mehmet Ergül, Süleyman Pehlivan, Ali Haydar and Murat Yönder. The indictment furthermore includes former Forces Commanders İbrahim Fırtına and Özden Örnek among the group of suspects.
25 active generals face prosecution
As reported by the Turkish news site NTVmsnbc.com, the document comprises the names of 25 Generals on active duty who gave their statements upon an according directive issued after the decision to arrest them was cancelled last minute. Amongst others, these are e.g. 6th Army Corps Commander Lieutenant General Nejat Bek, North Sea Area Commander Lieutenant General Mehmet Otuzbiroğlu, Land Military Academy Commander Major General Ahmet Yavuz, Tactical Infantry Division Commander Major General Gürbüz Kaya and Southern Duties Group Commander Rear Admiral Caner Bener. The former Land Forces Commander, Gen. Aytaç Yalman, is not mentioned in the indictment.
The indictment comprises 800 pages and about 200 attached files.
Sledgehammer coup plan
The Sledgehammer coup plan was initially brought to the headlines by the nationwide Taraf daily. Later on, the following allegations were also accepted by military experts:
In December 2002, The Sledgehammer Martial Law Command prepared the "Sledgehammer Security Operation Plan". Only a few units and a limited number of personnel were informed about the plan. Reason for the plan was the Sledgehammer Command's "duty to watch for and protect the Turkish Republic" as defined by the Domestic Services Law. Seminars regarding the plan were held by the Istanbul 1st Army Command in 2003.
Following an investigative section, plans with the code names "Chador", "Beard", "Suga" and "Thunderstorm" were prepared with the 'purpose to create strategic conditions for a coup'. However, these plans were not included in the seminar of the 1st Army Command.
No detained defendants left in "Cage operation plan"
Regarding the "Cage Action Plan", the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court released defendants and active military officers General Staff Colonels Mücahit Erakyol and Levent Gülmen and General Staff Lieutenant Colonel Halil Özsaraç who were detained in the scope of the relevant indictment.
The Istanbul 12th High Criminal Court had rejected the demand of the detained defendants for their release in the hearing on 18 June. Thereupon, lawyer Teyzel had appealed to the subordinated Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court.
The latter court decided to release the three defendants pending trial. Thus, none of the defendants of the Cage action plan remain in detention.
The "Cage Action Plan" was again revealed by Taraf newspaper in November 2009. It described spectacular plots against religious minorities in Turkey in order to overthrow the government of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The plan included the assassinations of Turkish-Armenian Agos chief editor Hrant Dink, Priest Santoro and three employees of the Zirve Publishing company in Malatya as "operations". (EÖ/VK)