Long sentences for Ergenekon suspects, lfe for ex-army chief
A court on Monday sentenced a former chief of general staff to life without parole and handed down harsh sentences to nearly 300 defendants, including many former military force commanders accused of plotting to topple the government. The court sentenced former military chief Gen. Ilker Basbug, journalist Tuncay Ozkan, retired Col. Dursun Cicek, lawyer Kemal Kerincsiz, Workers' Party (IP) leader Dogu Perincek, retired Col. Fuat Selvi, Hasan Ataman Yıldırım, retired generals Hursit Tolon, Nusret Tasdeler, Hasan Igsiz and Sener Eruygur to aggravated life imprisonment. Retired Brig. Gen. Veli Kucuk, Capt. Muzaffer Tekin and Council of State shooter Alparslan Arslan got consecutive life sentences in the trial. The court acquitted a total of 21 of the 275 defendants. The trial had been ongoing since 2008, after the discovery of a weapons arsenal in an Istanbul district. The court separated the cases of two suspects at large, former Justice and Development Party (AK Party) deputy Turan Comez and former Istanbul Mayor Bedrettin Dalan. Force commanders were given lengthy or life sentences on charges of attempting to overthrow the government, but there were also civilians, such as journalists Tuncay Ozkan and Mustafa Balbay, who were given lengthy prison terms. Ozkan was given 22 years and six months in jail while Balbay, who is also a Republican People's Party (CHP) deputy, was given 34 years and eight months. Sixteen of those convicted were released on the grounds that they have served their sentences already considering the time they spent under arrest during the course of the trial. Another deputy, CHP Zonguldak deputy Mehmet Haberal was given 12 and a half years on coup-attempt-related charges but was released. Ankara Chamber of Commerce (ATO) President Sinan Aygun, was sentenced to 13 years and six months. Journalist Yalcın Kucuk, who was accused of being one of the chief members in the administration of the organization, was given 22 years and six months. Dogu Perincek, head of the Workers' Party (İP), was given life without parole. Another key defendant, Veli Kucuk, was given two consecutive life sentences. Kucuk is a retired general and is believed to be the founder of the illegal intelligence unit JITEM. Former legal counsel of the General Staff, retired Gen. Hıfzı Cubuklu was sentenced to nine years in prison. Well-known mafia leader Sedat Peker was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his involvement in Ergenekon. Lt. Gen. Ismail Hakkı Pekin was given a seven-year-and-six-months imprisonment. Former Police Chief Adil Serdar Sacan got 14 years and six months. Ferda Paksut got two years and six months. The court sentenced Vice Adm. Mehmet Otuzbiroglu to 20 years and six months in prison. Osman Yildirim, who was among the suspects of the 2007 Council of State attack, got eight years and nine months. Retired Col. Arif Dogan, who also admitted to his role in establishing JITEM -- a clandestine and illicit unit within the gendarmerie -- was given 47 years. Ali Yasak, a well-known gangster linked to the figures in the Susurluk incident, got six years and three months. Some of the other sentences announced on Monday were as follows, although over what charges the sentences were given was not immediately available for each individual. Mafia boss Semih Tufan Gulaltay was given 12 years; IP Secretary-General Ferit Ilsever 15 years; writer Ergun Poyraz 29 years and nine months; former Higher Education Board (YOK) President Kemal Guruz got 13 years and 11 months; IP leader Dogu Perincek 117 years; İP press secretary Hikmet Cicek 21 years and nine months; retired Maj. Fikret Emek 41 years and four months; retired Lt. Col. Mustafa Donmez 49 years and two months; Bedirhan Sinal, a suspect of a hand grenade attack on the Cumhuriyet daily office, was sentenced to 18 years and eight months in prison; Emcet Olcayto, a lawyer for the Workers' Party, was given 13 years and two months; retired NCO Oktay Yıldırım got 33 years and 10 months and former National Security Council (MGK) Secretary-General Tuncer Kilinc was sentenced to 13 years.