General arrested in coup plot case

TODAYSZAMAN


Gen. Bilgin Balanl? is seen together with his wife at a diplomatic reception in this file photo.
An ?stanbul court ruled on Monday to send a senior commander to jail over allegations of involvement in a coup plot.
War Academies Commander Gen. Bilgin Balanl? was last week summoned to testify in the investigation of the Sledgehammer plot. He testified to a prosecutor earlier on Monday and was referred to court for arrest.
The ongoing investigation was launched over documents found in the Eski?ehir home of Col. Hakan Büyük earlier this year. Six generals, one admiral and one colonel testified on Friday as suspects in the case. Gen. Balanl?, who is also suspected of having contributed to the coup plot according to the documents, did not testify on Friday. His lawyer submitted a health report to the prosecutor showing that his client was not in good enough health to testify. He testified to Prosecutor Hüseyin Ayar on Monday morning, following which the prosecutor referred him to the court, demanding his arrest.
According to the documents seized at Büyük’s house, Gen. Balanl?, while serving as the 1st Air Forces commander, monitored civilian activities at a farm in Eski?ehir on the grounds that those working on it were engaged in reactionary activities.

The Air Forces Command allegedly operated RF-4 aircraft to monitor civilian activities at the Bilvanis farm, and the aircraft reported the daily routine at the farm to the command. The Air Forces Command argued that civilians staying on the farm were engaged in illegal activities.

Documents also suggested that Büyük kept tabs on some military officers in accordance with their religious and ideological leanings, according to other documents found in his house.

The spying occurred prior to the Feb. 28, 1997 postmodern coup. Büyük maintained records on military officers at the Air Forces Command. As a result, many military officers were dismissed from the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) after the 1997 coup on the grounds that they were engaged in acts of reactionaryism. The retired colonel’s documents showed that some officers were accused of acts of reactionaryism because they had a Quran in their houses or offices.

A total of six individuals, including Büyük, were arrested earlier as part of the probe into the documents seized in Eski?ehir.


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