Former Chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Özkök has said it is impossible for him to join the critics of the Sledgehammer coup trial, which concluded last week, and say the trial was unfair, adding that there is nothing to do but show respect for the court's decisions, Todays Zaman reported.
"I cannot say such a thing (that the trial was unfair). Because I am not a jurist. But according to my observations as a citizen, the panel of judges acted very carefully in this trial. They listened to the witnesses. The team of experts also did what was necessary. So I cannot say, 'The trial was unfair'," Özkök said in remarks which appeared in a number of Turkish newspapers on Sunday.
Sledgehammer is a suspected coup plot believed to have been devised in 2003 with the aim of unseating the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government through violent acts. According to the Sledgehammer plan, the military was to systematically foment chaos in society through acts of violence, among which were planned bomb attacks on the Fatih and Beyazıt mosques in İstanbul.
The plot allegedly sought to undermine the government to lay the groundwork for a coup d'état. The military, which has overthrown three governments since 1960 and pressured a conservative government to step down in 1997, has denied the existence of such a plan.
The Sledgehammer trial, which began in 2010, was concluded on Friday by the İstanbul 10th High Criminal Court at the 108th hearing of the case. The court handed down 20-year prison sentences to three retired generals who were key suspects in the case.