More Suspects Released in Turkey’s ‘Sledgehammer’ Case

ANKARA (Hurriyet)–Twelve more suspects in Turkey’s “Sledgehammer” coup-plot investigation were released Tuesday, bringing the total number of people to be put on trial without arrest in the case to 26.

The suspects who remain under arrest are Col. Cengiz Koylu, non-commissioned officer Musa Fariz and retired Col. Kubilay Aktas.

Fourteen suspects, including retired Gen. Çetin Dogan, the former commander of the 1st Army, and retired Gen. Engin Alan, were previously released June 18. Suspects released in both groups are not allowed to leave the country while the trial continues.

In its justification of its release decisions, the court said both the manner of the suspects during the investigation and the fact that the evidence has already been collected – leaving no possibility that it might be destroyed, hidden or changed – were taken into consideration. The court said there is no strong suspicion that the suspects would try to influence witnesses or victims in the case, nor that they would present a flight risk.

“Sledgehammer” (Balyoz) is an alleged military coup plot against the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, said to have been set up in 2003. According to allegations, the military planned drastic measures to foment unrest in the country in order to remove the AKP from power. These measures included bombing two major mosques in Istanbul, assaulting a military museum disguised as religious extremists and raising tensions with Greece by attacking a Turkish plane and blaming the incident on the Aegean neighbor.

The 12 suspects released Tuesday were retired Gen. Şükrü Sarıışık, the former secretary of the National Security Council; retired generals Behzat Balta, Tuncay Çakan, Mehmet Kaya Varol, Halil Kalkanlı and İzzet Ocak; and retired colonels Mümtaz Can, Emin Kucukkilic, Recep Yildiz, Murat Ozcelik, Suat Aydın and Ali Ihsan Cuhadaroglu.

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