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Turkish justice 'sledgehammered'

The Sledgehammer coup case, which has ended with the acquittal of all defendants, inflicted enormous damage on Turkey’s justice system, judiciary and military, while failing to eliminate the danger of military coups.
Relatives of detained military officers hold a portrait of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey, and  shout slogans in front of a courthouse in Ankara October 9, 2013. Turkey's appeals court upheld convictions on Wednesday of top retired military officers for leading a plot to overthrow Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government a decade ago in a case underlining civilian dominance over a once all-powerful army. The court overturned convictions of dozens of less prominent defendants among more th

The legal saga of the alleged "Sledgehammer" coup plot in Turkey, a political scheme by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its allies to permanently disable the military’s ability to intervene in politics, ended March 31, when all defendants were acquitted. The 236 suspects — almost all military officers, including 86 generals and admirals, some of them retired — had been initially convicted to lengthy jail terms. They were declared innocent after the state's evidence was dismissed as invalid. Arrested in 2010 and 2011, most spent three to five years in jail before being released on June 19, 2014, pending a retrial.

Today, only one person remains behind bars in connection with the Sledgehammer case. This person, however, is not a defendant accused of plotting a coup but a figure who played a key role in exposing the case. This person is Taraf columnist Mehmet Baransu, who, back in 2010, famously delivered to prosecutors a suitcase full of documents on which were based the ensuing Sledgehammer arrests and trials. Imprisoned since March 2, he is now accused of “setting up a criminal organization” and “disclosing information that the state’s security and internal or external political good requires be kept secret.”

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