The Sledgehammer Descends: More Than 300 Officers Sentenced to Prison

On September 21 a court in Istanbul has sentenced three retired generals to life imprisonment in the “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer), then reduced the sentence to 20 years. Air Force Cmdr. retired Gen. İbrahim Fırtına, retired 1st Army Cmdr. Gen. Çetin Doğan and retired Navy Cmdr. Adm. Özden Örnek were convicted to life on charges of “attempting to overthrow the government by force,” but the terms were later reduced to 20 years because the attempt to stage a coup was “incomplete”. 331 of the 365 suspects were sentenced to prison terms, while 34 were acquitted. People in the courtroom chanted support for the officers, “We are proud of you!”. (Click here for details of the case.)

Here is Dani Rodrik’s essay on the Sledgehammer trial, written for the opinion page of the Washington Post (click here for the rest):

Turkey’s courts have been working overtime to throw government opponents of all political stripes behind bars. Since 2007, the government has run a series of trials against an alleged ultra-nationalist terrorist organization called Ergenekon, charging lawyers, politicians, academics, journalists and military officers with plotting to overthrow the government. In separate cases, thousands of Kurdish politicians and activists are on trial — nearly 1,000 among them detained — for alleged links with terrorist activities. Turkey holds more journalists in jail than China and Iran combined.

In terms of sheer drama, few match the Sledgehammer case. In a trial that began in 2010, 365 serving and retired high-ranking military officials — including my father-in-law, Çetin Dogan — and two civilians are charged with planning the coup. Prosecutors allege that the plotters planned to bomb mosques, down a Turkish fighter jet in a false-flag operation, take over hospitals and pharmacies, close nongovernmental organizations, arrest journalists and politicians, and ultimately appoint a handpicked cabinet.

Yet the “incriminating documents” the court relied on to issue Thursday’s verdict were forged and have been used to frame the defendants. AmericanGerman and Turkishforensic analysts hired by the defense have independently confirmed the forgery….

In addition, many defendants have proved that they were outside Turkey or hundreds of miles away from work at the time they are alleged to have prepared these documents or attended coup-planning meetings. The documents also contain countless anachronisms, such as names of organizations and places that didn’t yet exist in 2003 or were changed after that time.

All this evidence leaves room for only one conclusion: The alleged coup plot is fabricated.

This conclusion has long been obvious to the Turkish military. In response to the mass arrest of their colleagues, the chief of Turkey’s armed forces and the heads of Turkey’s army, navy and air force resigned together on one symbolic day last summer. The case is widely seen as the means by which Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has decapitated the military, a powerful institution that has long opposed Islamist forces in Turkish society…

Most alarming is the Turkish court’s evident complicity with the forgery…

13 Responses to “The Sledgehammer Descends: More Than 300 Officers Sentenced to Prison”

  1. FYI – a short but interesting discourse follows the Washington Post article, in its comments section.

  2. “In a trial that began in 2010, 365 serving and retired high-ranking military officials — including my father-in-law, Çetin Dogan”

    uhm, son-in-law of one of the accused… and impartial observer? uhm…

  3. There are few observers that have gone into the detail Rodrik has, Giuseppe. Journalists are under tremendous pressure. Rodrik has the luxury of living abroad.

  4. obvious u.s decorated and dictated game is going on… u.s is obviously hating patriots of any country.. I rest my case,,,,,


  5. @ Hasan: Rodrik is not an ‘observer’, he’s the son-in-law of one the golpists. he’s not interested in accuracy and truth, he’s only ihterested in presenting his father-in-law as innocent (even if documents and registrations say the contrary)…

  6. ” (even if documents and registrations say the contrary)…” Giuseppe,
    What documents? Which registrations? How do we know they were not produced by haters of Patriots??

  7. Not that I am at all knowledgeable on the topic – but please note the following article from 2010 in the Washington Review:

  8. I think it would have been proper to disclose the fact that author is the son in law of one of the accused. As it is, it looks like the link is to a piece written by a observer of the trial, someone that might have some neutrality in the affair but it is not the case at all. Even if you agree Rodrik’s point of view, you should mention what his stance is to your readers.

  9. eln: It is mentioned in the article, as quoted by Giuseppe. Furthermore it is well known to everyone who has been following the case; we can skip the introductions at this point.

  10. to Emre: I am not sure why you assume that this blog must be only for people who know everything about everything on Turkey, and not also for those who may want to discover, research, know more about the country and its people. If this blog, and other similar blogs, is what I understand to be destined for a large public,then introductions are always welcome and mentions of authors’ partiality all the more essential. You should not look down upon others with such scorn just because you happen to know more (or so you think).

  11. Dani Rodrik is the son in law of one of the accused.

    We can not skip such an important introduction, if we talk about the same article written by Dani Rodrik.

  12. WOW !!

  13. WOW !! -2

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