ANKARA (Today’s Zaman)–The Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court yesterday accepted an additional indictment against 56 suspects in the case against Ergenekon, a clandestine terrorist organization charged with countless atrocities, murders and attacks staged for the ultimate purpose of inciting a military takeover.
The new indictment includes allegations put forward last year by a news weekly accusing former military commanders of plotting a coup d’etat, allegations that were also confirmed by the diaries of an Ergenekon suspect and a former admiral.
In addition to the diaries detailing coup plans inside the armed forces — one belonging to former Naval Forces Commander Adm. Ozden Ornek and one to journalist Mustafa Balbay — the 2007 assassination of journalist Hrant Dink, an illegal gendarmerie intelligence unit known as JITEM that terrorized locals in the Southeast in the 1990s, JITEM’s involvement in the Dink murder and Ergenekon’s plans to restructure the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party’s (MHP) leadership by bringing down their leaders are listed among many alleged crimes of the group.
The indictment states that the organization’s leading figures were in elevated positions in the state bureaucracy and military; had access to sensitive information and weapons; had the necessary connections to influence the media; and had the means to organize civil society organizations and bring them under their influence and foment public opinion. It also said the enormous amount of explosives and quantity of various weaponry found during the investigation clearly demonstrated that Ergenekon was capable of taking over state organs by organizing its supporters inside the armed forces.
Two former generals are the prime suspects in the new indictment. Nineteen of the 56 suspects standing trial in the new indictment are in prison, while the remaining 37 have been released pending trial.
The number one suspect in the indictment is %u05Eener Eruygur, a retired general who formerly served as the commander of the Gendarmerie General Command and spent much of his retirement heading a nationalist group known as the Atat?rkist Thought Association (ADD). Eruygur was released pending trial after a head injury that resulted in brain surgery last year. The second key suspect is retired Gen. Hur%u05Fit Tolon, a former 1st Army Corps commander, who is currently at the G?lhane Military Academy of Medicine (GATA).
The new indictment was submitted to court exactly two weeks ago, and the 15-day period allotted to the court before it must announce whether it rejects or accepts the new indictment ended yesterday. The court has not yet ruled to merge the ongoing Ergenekon trial with the new set of accusations. The suspects indicted in the new document will appear before the court on July 20, 2009, the date of the first hearing announced by the court yesterday.
The Ergenekon investigation started in July 2007, when a house full of munitions was discovered by the police in Istanbul’s Umraniye district. The new 1,909-page indictment, sectioned into five chapters, marks the beginning of a second trial against the alleged members of Ergenekon. However, a merger will be possible in the future, as the court announced yesterday that it would review the prosecution’s demand that the two trials be merged. The court also ruled that the 19 suspects currently in custody would continue to be detained.
The prosecution released a statement yesterday in which it noted that an additional indictment was on the way. The prosecutor’s office said a probe into 77 suspects — 48 in custody, 29 released — was still under way.
The indictment accuses former generals Eruygur and Tolon of being behind a grenade attack of the Cumhuriyet daily’s office in 2006, a crime suspected to have been staged by Ergenekon in an attempt to induce fear in the hearts of secularists and increase polarization in society, which Ergenekon hoped would create the chaotic environment needed for manipulation of the masses and eventually a coup d’?tat.
Other suspects in the indictment include retired Gen. Levent Ersoz; retired Gen. Atilla Ugur; Cumhuriyet daily Ankara representative Mustafa Balbay; Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO) head Sinan Aygun; neo-nationalist businessman Birol Basaran; journalist Erol Mutercimler, former Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy Emin Sirin; former aide to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and former AK Party deputy Turhan Comez; Ferda Paksut, who is the wife of Constitutional Court Deputy President Osman Paksut; Tercuman daily Editor-in-Chief Ufuk Buyuk?elebi; former State Security Court (DGM) judge Tanju Guvendiren; journalist Tuncay Ozkan; former Police Chief Adil Serdar Sacan; and former Esenyurt Mayor G?rb?z Capan.