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‘Absurd’ detention of Turkish officers 30 avril 2012

Posted by Acturca in Turkey / Turquie.
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Financial Times (UK) Monday, April 30, 2012, p. 10
Letters to the Editor

From Dr A. Yasin Turker *

Sir, I am one of the 250 officers (including 55 serving admirals and generals) arrested in the « sledgehammer » case, charged with attempting to overthrow the government of Turkey through force and violence in 2002-03. I have been detained since September 16 2011 and still do not know the detailed grounds for my continuing detention.

The whole case has originated from unsigned and unprinted digital materials. All of the defendants have strongly denied the allegations. There are countless anachronisms revealed in these digital documents by the responses of various agencies in the investigation phase. New evidence recently unearthed by Turkish and US technical forensic experts shows that the CDs (the incriminating documents they contain) could not have been created or edited in 2003 (as the prosecution maintains).

The European Union parliament committee on foreign affairs, in its 2011 progress report on Turkey, commented on the sledgehammer case, noting that it was « concerned about the allegations regarding the use of inconsistent evidence against the defendants in these cases ». It called on the commission to « closely follow the aforementioned cases and to publicise the findings in more detail in an Annex to the 2012 progress report ».

In my own case, I have been accused because my name appears in lists in two of these files. Before being accused, I was never aware of the files and lists, nor consented to the inclusion of my name in any such list. In fact, during the period in which these files were created I was in hospital for an operation and subsequently on medical leave.

So far, the trial judge has ignored the defendants’ pleas for the introduction of forensic evidence or the calling of two witnesses who would clear them. The travesty reached new heights last month when the judge ruled to move to the final stage of the trial, bypassing defendants’ requests for examination of the prosecution’s evidence. Yet there are countless anachronisms, inconsistencies and physical impossibilities on which the case rests. A guilty verdict has become virtually certain.

The sledgehammer case will eventually collapse under the weight of its collective absurdity. But the damage caused will extend far beyond the suffering of hundreds of innocent individuals who have been locked up under false pretences. At the moment, it is unclear who benefits, but it is clear that the costs and liabilities are rising not only for Turkey, but also for Nato.

* A. Yasin Turker, Captain, Turkish Navy, Maltepe Military Prison, Istanbul, Turkey

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