The 9th Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals on Wednesday announced its ruling in the appeals trial of the Sledgehammer coup plot case, upholding convictions of 237 suspects, including retired Gen. Cetin Dogan Today`s Zaman reported.
The court overturned arrest decisions for 63 suspects while prison sentences for 36 suspects including retired Gen. Cetin Dogan were upheld. The court upheld the acquittal of 34 suspects while it overturned convictions of 25 others and ruled for their acquittal. Explaining its grounds for overturning the arrest decisions for the 63 suspects, the high court said they should have been charged with membership in a criminal organization instead of a failed coup attempt.
The İstanbul 10th High Criminal Court on Sept. 21, 2012, convicted over 300 suspects of being involved in a coup plot organized by former 1st army commander Dogan. Coup plotters Dogan; the former chief of the Naval Forces, Adm. Ozden Ornek; and the former chief of the Air Forces, Gen. İbrahim Fırtına, were sentenced to 20 years in prison while the others received various prison sentences depending on their degree of participation in the plot.
Retired Gen. Engin Alan, War Academies Commander Gen. Bilgin Balanlı, retired Gen. Ergin Saygun, former National Security Council (MGK) Secretary-General Sukru Sarıısık, retired Gen. Nejat Bek, retired Adm. Ahmet Feyyaz Ogutcu and retired Gen. Suha Tanyeri were also sentenced to 18 years in prison each. The court issued 16-year jail sentences for 214 suspects, including retired Col. Dursun Cicek and retired military judge Ahmet Zeki Ucok, in the historic trial.
Among the suspects for whom the high court upheld prison sentences were Fırtına, Ornek, Bek, Balanlı, Sarıısık, Cicek and Tanyeri.
At the end of the 17th hearing in August, which was reportedly the longest in the Supreme Court of Appeals' history, 96 defense lawyers made statements for nearly 120 hours on behalf of 361 indictees in which they claimed that digital data suggested the case's basis was fake.
The local court's verdict was appealed and the file was sent to the Supreme Court of Appeals on Feb. 27. Supreme Court of Appeals prosecutors studying the case announced their legal opinion on June 17, advising that the convictions of 258 people be upheld, 67 convictions be reversed, 35 acquittals be upheld and one acquittal be reversed.
Sledgehammer is a coup plot created at a military gathering in 2003. According to the plan, the military was to systematically foment chaos in society through violent acts, among which were planned bomb attacks on the Fatih and Beyazıt mosques in İstanbul.
The plot allegedly sought to undermine the government, laying the groundwork for a military takeover. The suspects were accused of a failed attempt to overthrow the government.
The Sledgehammer documents were the basis of a presentation given by Dogan during a military conference on March 5-7, 2003 held at the Selimiye barracks. According to the court, the conference, part of a series of regular "War Seminars" in which military officers brainstormed using case studies, was far from a "routine scenario," and in fact involved a coup d'état plan.
Retired Gen. Dogan, speaking at the Selimiye seminar, reportedly said Article 35 of the Internal Service Code gives the military sufficient authority to undertake a coup.
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