Opposition: Probe for Feb 28th coup has turned into “witch hunt”
Turkish police have launched a third wave of raids as part of a probe into the Feb. 28 post-modern coup of 1997 amid complaints by the main opposition’s leader that the investigation is turning into a “witch hunt.” A specially authorized prosecutor in Ankara has ordered the detentions of 13 military personnel located in Ankara, Istanbul, İzmir and Kars.
The former General Commander of the Gendarmerie Forces, retired Gen. Fevzi Türkeri, was detained at his residence in Ankara. Türkeri was known as the general who gave briefings to members of the press during the post-modern coup, which is also known as the “Feb. 28 process.”
The head of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, harshly criticized the new wave of detentions, saying the coup investigation was turning into a “witch hunt” where “the prosecutors followed orders from the prime minister.” Kılıçdaroğlu accused Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of using the judiciary to “take revenge” rather than produce justice.
In the first wave of arrests in the post-modern coup, 18 suspects, including then-Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Çevik Bir, were arrested April 12. Retired two-star general Erol Özkasnak, a leading figure in the Feb. 28 process, was arrested along with seven other suspects in the second wave on April 19.
The Feb. 28 process refers to a harsh army-led campaign that forced Turkey’s first Islamist prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, to resign in June 1997 after only a year in office.
The process took its name from the Feb. 28, 1997, meeting of the National Security Council (MGK), at which Turkey’s then-omnipotent military imposed a series of tough secularist demands on Erbakan that mainly aimed at curbing Islamic education in the face of what was perceived to be a growing threat to Turkey’s secular system.