By Manolis Kostidis – Ankara
In Turkey, a day after the sentencing to life imprisonment of the two protagonists of the military coup of 1980, the Istanbul court ordered the release of 236 officers of the Turkish Armed Forces, who were convicted on charges of involvement in the military coup codenamed “Bayloz” (Sledgehammer), which ultimately aimed to overthrow the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan!
The officers were released from prison after the unanimous decision of the Constitutional Court, which yesterday ruled that it violated the rights of the officers as the special court that sentenced them refused to hear the testimony of two former senior military officers, as had been requested by the defendants.
The three main accused in the “Bayloz” operation, the former leader of the First Army, Cetin Dogan, the former leader of the Turkish Air Force, Ibrahim Fırtına, and the former Chief of Navy, Ozden Ornek, in 2012 had been sentenced to twice life imprisonment. Later it was announced that the sentence of the three “brains” behind the operation was reduced to twenty years imprisonment due to the failure to carry out the plan.
Other generals, like Engin Alan, Erhun Saygun and former Head of the School of War Bilgin Balanlı, had been sentenced to 18 years imprisonment, charged with participation on a failed coup attempt. ”
Now all the “conspirators” are released from prison in order to re-open their case. A process that will take several months.
What is Erdogan’s aim?
The timing of the decision however, raises questions. Political analysts believe that the Turkish prime minister makes a great “opening” to the Turkish army and wants to ally with the “pashas” for the upcoming presidential election next August, in which he will most likely be a candidate.
At the same time he gains a big advantage in his conflict with the Islamic order of Fethullah Gulen, as most officers know the order’s weaknesses since they had been “fighting” against it. The impression the Turkish government wants to create is that the “pashas” were wrongfully convicted by judges who were affiliated with Gulen.
The Turkish Armed Forces with an announcement state that they “share the joy of those released from prison” and that they “wish the litigation process to be carried out in a fair manner.”
The “Bayloz” plan foresaw the placement of explosives in a mosque, the shooting down of a Turkish Air Force aircraft, with the claim that was shot down by Greece with the ultimate goal the creation of a Greek-Turkish heated episode. The Turkish generals, according to the indictment had devised a plan for the conquest of the Northern Evros!
The final stage of this plan predicted that, due to the great upheaval of these events, the Erdogan government that had come to power in November 2002 would have been overthrown.
Erdogan in Vienna
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, visited Vienna and spoke to the Turks who live in Austria at a gathering held in the city’s central ice rink. The Turkish prime minister said that “no one should be afraid of the presence of the Turkish Prime Minister in Austria. When about a month ago I had talked to our compatriots in Cologne the German press started a smearing campaign against us, but as you know nothing happened”.
The Foreign Minister of Austria, Kurt Sebastian, in an interview he had warned Erdogan over the speech he planned to make in the country, stressing that “Erdogan must ask for the integration of the Turks to the Austrian society; he should urge them to learn German; that’s what’s right”. If however he makes a speech like the one in Germany where he caused discord, then this will create a problem. He should be careful”.
Erdogan will visit France next, to speak at a gathering of Turks as part of his election campaign for the upcoming presidential elections in Turkey, in which Turks abroad will be eligible to vote.