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Ankara court rejects army appeal for end to "cosmic search"

05 January 2010 [17:14] - TODAY.AZ
An Ankara court announced on Monday that a civilian search of the Special Forces Command would continue, rejecting a recent request by the judicial advisory board of the General Staff for an end to the search.
The request was filed with the Ankara 11th High Criminal Court in late December. The General Staff's judicial advisory board argued that the documents kept in the archives of the Special Forces Command are “state secrets” and that a civilian judge and prosecutors should not be allowed to continue their search.

The court, however, said the search, conducted as part of an ongoing probe into a suspected plot against Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, should forge ahead. “The search is not aimed at examining state secrets. It is conducted in accordance with Article 119 of Turkey's Code on Criminal Procedure [CMK],” the court ruled. The court also said the search would be completed as soon as possible.

The judge and prosecutors will examine documents related to the alleged assassination plot. The General Staff's request came shortly after a written statement was released by a controversial member of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) last week. HSYK member Ali Suat Ertosun claimed that documents that constitute “state secrets” cannot be examined by a civilian judge.

However, the General Staff had announced on Dec. 29 that the search was being carried out in accordance with the law, noting that it was likely to be “lengthy.”

The search was initiated on Dec. 24 after the capture of two officers from the Tactical Mobilization Group -- a unit under the General Staff's Special Forces Command -- as they stood watch near Arınç's house in Ankara's Çukurambar neighborhood. Upon their capture, the General Staff claimed that the officers were actually gathering intelligence on another army officer suspected of espionage.

The search at the Special Forces Command, where confidential military documents are kept in archives referred to as the “cosmic room,” has been applauded by most observers as they believe it will shed light on a number of shady incidents in the country’s past. The search aims to reveal whether there is a military plot to assassinate high-level politicians.
Jurists: General Staff’s request constitutes constitutional crime

The General Staff’s request for an end to the search of the Special Forces Command’s archives has drawn the ire of jurists.

Speaking to Today’s Zaman, International Federation for Human Rights Vice President Yusuf Alataş said: “It is disrespectful to discuss the legitimacy of the search. No individual or institution is above the law. Therefore, the General Staff committed a constitutional crime by asking the court to stop the search.” Asked about a change in the stance of the General Staff toward the search, Alataş said the request was aimed at protecting the state even if it committed a crime.

“However, such a tendency does not comply with the principles of a state governed by the rule of law. If a state moves outside the boundaries of the law, it becomes weak. Can a state that does not question illegal activities exist? Let all secrets be deciphered. That would make Turkey more transparent and increase its respectability,” Alataş noted.

According to parliamentary Justice Commission President Ahmet İyimaya, the search is not illegal and aims to examine documents kept secret from the public for the successful completion of the probe. “The state cannot hide documents necessary for the conclusion of an investigation. If prosecutors do not have any other means to continue their investigation, the state has to share those documents with the prosecutors. Currently, Turkey is experiencing a hard time due to its transition from the reign of secrets to transparency. Many jurists are becoming comical when trying to hinder the search,” he remarked.

Recai Birgün, an independent deputy from İzmir, defined the Special Forces Command as the “covert operations unit of the state.” “The search at the command can reveal all the secret operations of the state and all who joined those operations. That’s why some circles are uneasy about the search. They believe the search will put the state in a difficult position. … The new state is eliminating the old state. All means are being used to this end,” he said. Birgün believes the civilian search can expose many prominent figures of the business, art and media world who contributed to the state’s secret and illegal plans.

“The search can expose many people who contributed to the state’s secret operations at home and abroad. The Special Forces Command left its mark on Turkey’s history. That’s why some people are highly opposed to the search. This is pretty normal,” he remarked.

/Todays Zaman/

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