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Landmark Ergenekon case in Turkey deserves high legal standards

March 5, 2009 2:33 PM

Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman and MEP for London, Sarah Ludford, has called on the Turkish Government to uphold the rule of law in the landmark Ergenekon case against a criminal network allegedly plotting for military coup, and in particular to avoid long periods of detention without charge.

The trial, which opened on 20 December against 86 defendants, including 46 accused of being members of the Ergenekon network, is seen as crucial for Turkey to confront the so-called 'deep state', a group of influential anti-democratic forces said to exist within the Turkish political system.

Sarah Ludford, who has co-written a letter to Turkish Justice minister Mehmet Ali Sahin in her capacity of vice-chair of the European Parliament's human rights sub-committee, said "It is troubling it took a year to lay charges against the initial 46 detainees although they were in detention, while others are also detained but still not charged. Whatever the alleged offences, proper defence and fair trial rights under the European Convention of Human Rights must be available and applied consistently."

"This trial represents an opportunity for Turkey to demonstrate not only the democratisation of its public life but also its adherence to the rule of law. I am therefore calling on Minister Salin to ensure that detentions are kept as short as possible and that all detainees have full access to lawyers".