My conscience is clear, says Turkey’s former army chief sentenced to life in prison

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Former Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ released a short statement following the Ergenekon verdict sentencing him to life in prison, stating that his conscience was clear and that the “final say is the people’s say.”

“For those who have been tried under these circumstances, the final say is the people’s say. And the people are never wrong and are never deceived,” Başbuğ said.

“Those who have always stood beside the righteous people, beside justice, have a clear conscience. I am one of those people,” the former army chief added.

Suspects’ daughters Tuncay Özkan and Dursun Çiçek staged a protest outside the courthouse minutes after the verdict was announced. Özkan attempted to walk out of the courtroom following the announcement, but was prevented from doing so. Arif Doğan, who was sentenced to 47 years, yelled, “Hang me!” after the judge read the verdict, according to daily Hürriyet.

The verdict prompted responses from suspects and outsiders alike as Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Sinan Aygün, who was sentenced to 13 years and six months, said he respected the decision, adding that CHP head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu “did not expect so many life sentences.”

Kılıçdaroğlu was surprised for high number of life imprisonments, Aygün told reporters after the meeting.

Aygün referred the next stage to the high court, and said he would continue working for a new charter.

Nationalist Movement party (MHP) deputy Oktay Vural told members of the press that one should take a look at the verdict before making statements, however, he added that the ongoing process had been used by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as “a marketing tool and a way of oppressing the opposition,” according to Anadolu Agency.

“Imposing punishment for crimes against the government only is becoming obsolete,” Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Adil Zozani told the Hürriyet Daily News.

“These people committed crime not only against the government. They were also involved in some crimes that can be considered as crimes against humanity. These crimes are included in additional case files,” he said.

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