SILIVRI, Turkey - The trial of a Turkish former armed forces chief accused of heading a terrorist group begins on Monday, showing just how weak the military has become in Turkey, where it once held ultimate power.
General Ilker Basbug branded the case against him as tragi-comic when he was first detained in January. While bewildered by the accusations, he said he was not shocked, given how prosecutors have pursued other officers in the past three years.
Basbug, chief of staff from 2008 to 2010, is accused of being a leader of a shadowy network dubbed "Ergenekon", said to be behind a string of alleged, but as yet unproven, plots against the government of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.
"The allegation to be read tomorrow at the hearing is not only against Ilker Basbug, but also against the Turkish armed forces and even, in political terms, the state," Ilkay Sezer, the general's lawyer, said in a comment on Twitter on Sunday.
Sezer is expected to ask for the case to be transferred to the Supreme Court, as befitting a state official of Basbug's seniority, though earlier requests were rejected.
The 68-year-old retiree is the most senior officer among hundreds of secularists facing conspiracy and terrorism charges.