Erdogan criticizes pre-trial detention of military officers



Reuters

Published — Monday 28 January 2013

Last update 28 January 2013 1:31 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

ANKARA: Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has criticized the lengthy pre-trial detention of hundreds of military officers, suggesting it was sapping army morale just as Ankara vows to keep up pressure on Kurdish militants.
During his 10 years in power, Erdogan, whose party has moderate Islamist roots, has brought to heel the once all-powerful armed forces, which see themselves as guardians of secularism and regularly intervened in politics and carried out coups in previous decades.
Hundreds of serving and retired officers, including 20 percent of military generals, have been jailed pending trial since 2005 on conspiracy charges and plotting to overthrow the government.
But as initial public support for the investigations dwindles, with critics and even sympathisers saying cases have spiralled out of control, Erdogan has distanced himself from the trials.
“There are now close to 400 retired and serving officers inside. The most serious are accused of forming organizations or belonging to one. If the provisions for these are certain, then finish the job,” Erdogan said late on Friday.
“But if there isn’t certainty, then the hundreds of officers should be treated accordingly. This disrupts the entire morale of the Turkish armed forces. How can these people then fight terror?” he said in an interview with Turkish television.
While Erdogan has received praise for bringing the military under civilian control, the years defendants are spending in prison without conviction has raised fears the trials are a political witch hunt aimed at silencing opposition.
The first large-scale convictions came last September after a 21-month trial when more than 300 officers were handed prison sentences for plotting to topple Erdogan’s government almost a decade ago. Hundreds more are still in jail awaiting trial.
Around 100 journalists are also in prison, as well as thousands of activists, lawyers, politicians and others. Most are accused of plotting against the government or supporting outlawed Kurdish militants.
Parliament voted to abolish the special courts used in coup conspiracy cases last July after Erdogan criticized prosecutors for acting as if they were “a different power within the state.”
But the end of the special courts, established by Erdogan’s government in 2005, will not affect existing prosecutions of the hundreds of military officers already in jail.
Erdogan’s latest comments also come after one of the most violent summers in three decades, with security forces locked in almost daily battles with militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and at a time of heightened tension with Syria.
Turkey has been one of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s fiercest critics and has seen violence from the war in its southern neighbor spill into its own territory. While Ankara does not want to get sucked further into the conflict, it has threatened cross-border military action if needed.
Turkey’s conscript army is the second largest in NATO.
The PKK, designated a terrorist group by Ankara, the United States and the European Union, took up arms in 1984 and more than 40,000 people, mostly Kurds, have been killed since then.
The state-run Anatolian news agency reported on Saturday the military killed more than 1,500 “terrorists” inside and outside Turkey last year, citing the country’s general staff. Turkish warplanes regularly launch air strikes on PKK targets in northern Iraq, where the guerrillas have bases.
Reuters could not independently verify the militant death tolls and Turkey’s military rarely talks to the media.
Security forces, including army and police, have taken heavy casualties over the past year with PKK militants stepping up attacks on convoys and outposts.
Hopes of an end to the conflict grew, however, after the government acknowledged state intelligence officials were talking to jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan.
While backing moves toward peace, Erdogan has vowed military operations will continue until the PKK disarms, a stance Kurdish politicians say undermines efforts to build trust.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Kingdom and New Zealand have signed an air services agreement to set a comprehensive regulatory framework for air transport, operating on a safe and organized basis.The deal was signed at the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) he...
RIYADH: Education Minister Ahmed Al-Issa has called on teachers, educators and other officials of his ministry to work hard for the common goal of producing quality graduates. “I urge you to do your level best in transmitting knowledge to the student...
AL-AHSA: Uncoordinated production resources, lack of risk planning, evaluation, non-study of similar projects and poor planning are among the reasons for failure of projects, an expert has said.“Total quality management (TQM) is an integrated scienti...
JEDDAH: The Specialized Criminal Court has issued its verdict against two Saudis for terrorism-related offenses and for supporting extremist groups, a local daily has reported.The court issued a prison sentence of ten and a half years to the first de...
RIYADH: The second phase of the operation on a Polish child for a genetic heart disease was successfully performed at the King Abdulaziz Medical City (KAMC) of the National Guard Health Affairs on Wednesday. On a directive from Custodian of the Two H...
JEDDAH: A new breast cancer treatment improves survival rates by an average 20 percent, with life expectancy lengthened by 29.9 months.This is according to Ahmed Al-Wabari, breast oncology consultant at King Fahd Specialist Hospital in Dammam, who ou...
RIYADH: The projects of Saudi students at the Technical Trainers College (TTC) is being showcased at the German pavilion in the 30th Janadriyah Festival. With the slogan “Welcome to Your Future”, the TTC is participating in the festival with Germany...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor has urged firms to immediately start implementing the 10th phase of the Wage Protection System before it becomes mandatory on March 31.Mohammed Al-Faleh, assistant undersecretary for inspection and development of the wor...
RIYADH: As many as 104 antique items that have come from the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany, have gone on display at the National Museum here. The exhibition coincides the Janadriyah festival for heritage and culture.According to local media, the...
RIYADH: A visiting Kuwaiti delegation has praised Saudi Arabia for collecting and preserving various heritage items at the King Abdul Aziz Historical Center in Riyadh.The delegation, led by Kuwait’s Education Minister Bader Al-Essa, was given a tour...
RIYADH: Road security forces in Madinah apprehended two Asian expats who were caught in possession of a huge amount of money totaling SR1.6 million and talismans.“The two Asians were riding in a Japanese-made car when they were stopped at the Yanbu-...
RIYADH: Good news for the 25,000 British expatriates in the Kingdom, who will get their franchise to participate in the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.In an announcement on Thursday, the British Embassy here said that the Uni...
JEDDAH: Jeddah Municipality, with cooperation of the Check Safety First British company, launched an award of excellence for services in restaurants under the name E-Cristal to support the establishment of best services in restaurants and eatery shop...
JEDDAH: Well-known Indian cricketer Irfan Pathan married Safa Baig, an Indian woman, who was born in Jeddah and raised here by her Hyderabadi parents.The marriage was solemnized at a simple ceremony at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on Wednesday. Only a...
RIYADH: The Ministries of Interior and Islamic Affairs are considering appointing security guards at all the mosques in the Kingdom where Friday prayers are held.The move comes as a precautionary and regulatory measure to protect the mosques from at...

Stay Connected

Facebook