Sledgehammer (cont’d)

The election result emphasized in bold letters that Turkeyand’s story of normalization and democratization is far from over and that the struggle for equality, freedom, rights, dignity and justice will continue as before. Dealing with the crimes, abuses of power and harmful wrongdoings committed in the past remains a crucial part of it. The UludereRoboski incident — the killing of 34 Kurdish peasants by Turkish fighter jets — and the story of trucks allegedly carrying weaponry to murky parts of the Syrian insurgency illustrated attempts at a cover up. The latter also displayed elements of high drama as the officers, soldiers and prosecutors who stopped and searched the trucks involved in the dubious transport found themselves locked up. The fate of the two major graft probes that went public on Dec. 17 and 25, 2013 was similar: Both files were shut down under controversial — to say the least — circumstances. Another eyebrow-raising dimension was what many observers noted as a U-turn in some key trials. The so-called and”Lighthouseand” case, which was about massive embezzlement in a charity operation involving people linked to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) was declared null and void. And, equally important, a court attempted to and”nullifyand” the Sledgehammer case on the basis that all of the evidence was forged. The case was about plotting a military coup against the elected AKP government in 2003. The prosecutors argued, based on well-documented evidence, that a and”juntaand” formed under then-commander of the 1st Army, four-star General andcetin Dogan, and its and”dress rehearsaland” took place under the disguise of a and”plan seminarand” — a simulation exercise with the real names of politicians and a debate on the formation of a and”National Unity Government.and”
While the decision led to some declarations by those sentenced as well as their relatives that and”justice had been done,and” (as if Turkeyand’s troubled judiciary had suddenly, for a moment, become and”first class and superand”), others sufficiently knowledgeable about the content and deep circumstances of the case, saw it as a significant U-turn. Was it a joke that a lower court — defying the unanimous approval of the judges of the Court of Cassation — would send all of the evidence into the bin, rejecting the heavy prison sentences of a group of high-rank officers, including Dogan and the Air Force and Navy commanders at that time: ibrahim Firtina and andOzden andOrnek? and”Justiceand” truly seemed to be lost in that riddle. The sudden trend of acquittals and retrials perhaps had to be seen in the context of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan extending an olive branch to the military in a desperate attempt to build alliances, offering impunity in return. The context also included a desire to and”get away without an enquiryandquot with the 2013 December graft probes. The prosecutorand’s office, however, had taken caution. Sensing the same as the legal experts I mentioned above, it had reserved the right to appeal the decision and it did move ahead. The prosecutor insists that the sound recordings and other evidence make it clear that there was a coup in the making and that it had aanced close to the and”attempt stage.and” Perhaps more importantly, he limits his appeal to only seven (former) officers, with Dogan at the top. This was exactly the point raised by experienced lawyers at the time the trial began in 2010, that one should not be sloppy as a prosecutor and only focus on the top of the and”pyramid of organized crimeand” — if ever to achieve success in the procedures. The new turn in the Sledgehammer case is therefore raising fresh hopes that justice will be done. There is also new circumstantial evidence in the form of a book by Aytaandc Yalman, the four-star general commanding the Land Forces at the time of the events, who endorses claims that a and”disasterand” was averted and Dogan was at least responsible for a high-level and”disciplinary breach.and” So, thankfully, the case is not closed. Itand’s not about seeing people sent back to jail. The core point is that, given the strength of the evidence, the courts sufficiently establish for good whether or not there was an attempted coup. This is what one can best expect from Sledgehammer: that it slams a nail on the coffin of the coup culture that has poisoned Turkey and helped create copy-paste monsters even in civilian disguise. The prosecutorand’s move means that the Taraf daily and its investigative journalist Mehmet Baransu stand for a memorable, daring piece of journalism, by reporting on Sledgehammer years ago. This is sufficient reason for releasing Baransu, who is held in prison without trial, on charges of espionage.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman