Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Cage Plan" Hearings Get Under Way

PHOTO by Emrah Gürel/Hurriyet Daily News

With eyes focused on Turkey-Israel relations, Turkey's recent vote on Iranian sanctions, and increased PKK violence, the Ergenekon investigation continues onward, as do the trials it has brought in its wake. Among these are of the 33 suspects charged with participating the Cage Action Plan, the mysterious designs of which the Turkish daily Taraf revealed last November. The first hearing for the Cage suspects got underway in Istanbul yesterday.

According to Taraf and a susequent investigation, active and retired military staff plotted to commit mass acts of violence against Turkey's non-Muslim communities in a premeditated effort to cause enough chaos and discontent with the AKP government to force it out of power. These acts of violence allegedly included the assassination of Hrant Dink, as well as the murders of three Christian missionaries working at Zirve publishing house in Malatya and Catholic priest Andrea Santoro in Trabzon. The group is thought to have also been hatching further actions.

At yesterday's hearing, the 12th High Criminal Court in Istanbul granted the Turkish-Armenian Agos newspaper, of which Dink had been the editor, joint plaintiff status, allowing Dink lawyers to participate in the hearings. Fethiye Cetin, who has long advocated on behalf of the Dink family and the Hrant Dink Foundation to bring the shadowy operation surrounding Dink's murder to light, argued that the alleged conspirators had long waged a campaign of intimidation against the paper and was responsible for Dink's murder. Two separate trials involving Dink's murder ae currently ongoing, and have been plagued with problems and continued coverups.

The defendants denied the allegations, arguing the document laying out the plan is a hoax. They had requested to e tried in military court, stating that the civilian court in which the case is being tried had no jurisdiction. The court denied their request while granting that of Agos. For an account of the hearing, see this report from Bianet.

The Cage suspects face 7 to 15 years in prison for being memers of an armed terrorist organization.

For more on the Cage Action Plan, see Jan. 25 post.

UPDATE I (6/18) -- The second hearing took place yesterday at which alleged "Cage Plan" ring leader retired Vice Admiral Ahmet Feyyaz Ögütçü gave his defense, dismissing the charges against him as based on a series of fabrications and hoaxes that are part of a conspiracy designed to weaken the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). For an account of the hearing, see this report from Bianet. A third hearing is taking place today.

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