In 2003, then Prime Minister, now President, of Turkey, Tayyip Erdogan had over 200 military officers arrested on the charge that they were plotting a coup.
Every single one of them have now been acquitted:
A Turkish court acquitted all 236 military officers in a retrial over an alleged 2003 plot to unseat then-prime minister Tayyip Erdogan, after the prosecutor said key evidence was inadmissible, a defense lawyer told Reuters.
In 2012 a court sentenced the officers to jail over the “Sledgehammer” conspiracy dating back to 2003, a year after now-President Erdogan’s AK Party came to power.
However, the constitutional court subsequently ruled that the mishandling of evidence central to the prosecution case — computer files containing alleged conspiratorial documents — had violated the defendants’ rights, and a retrial began in November last year.
“At the end of the retrial, the judges ruled to annul the previous court decision in favor of acquittal for all defendants,” lawyer Celal Ulgen told Reuters.
The alleged plot was said to include plans to bomb mosques and trigger a conflict with Greece by shooting down one of Turkey’s own warplanes, paving the way for a military takeover.
Turkish officials suggested evidence in the case had been manipulated by supporters of an Islamic cleric who had been using his influence in the police and judiciary to help Erdogan break the army’s power.
When the court is saying that the evidence is “Mishandled”, I think that this is a polite way of saying that prosecutors made sh%$ up.
Erdogan certainly had reason to be concerned in 2003, there is a long history of coups in Turkey, but these charges appear to be trumped up.
Seriously, bombing mosques and shooting down their own airplanes?
Now that Erdogan appears to be taking an increasingly anti-democratic stance toward governance, it is significant that the court still acquitted these officers.
The power of the army is still broken, which is a good thing, but Turkey does seem to be headed down a troubling path.