’Deep state’ suspect offers shallow defense .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} ISTANBUL - A key suspect in the Ergenekon investigation testified in court yesterday, blaming the state itself and accusing it of conspiring against him.

Retired Maj. Gen. Veli Küçük, cited by some as the main organizer of crimes blamed on the "deep state," the term used to describe all illegal activities committed by state organs.

The Ergenekon case began after the discovery of hand grenades in 2007 in a shanty house in Istanbul that belonged to a retired noncommissioned officer. The grenades were found to be the same as those used in attacks on the Cumhuriyet daily’s Istanbul offices in 2006.

The findings led to scores of detentions and to more than 100 journalists, writers, gang leaders and politicians being interrogated. It turned into a terror investigation that aimed to crack down on an alleged ultra-nationalist gang named Ergenekon, that sought to topple the government by staging a coup in 2009, initially by spreading chaos and mayhem. Ergenekon is a pre-Islamic Turkish saga that tells of the Turks' emergence from an earlier defeat by tricking their enemies under the guidance of a gray wolf.

Earlier bombings of daily Cumhuriyet, the murder of Hrant Dink, the murder of a top judge of the Council of State and alleged plans for the assassination of high-profile figures in Turkish politics have been associated with the case.

Police also raided the homes of 11 people on March 21 in an earlier wave of detentions, including Cumhuriyet's chief columnist and licensee, İlhan Selçuk, 83, Workers' Party, or İP, leader Doğu Perinçek and Istanbul University's former rector.

The list of detainees includes retired generals Şener Eruygur and Hürşid Tolon and retired Küçük. Many detainees are retired officials who gathered in associations linked to the ultra-nationalist Kuvayi Milliye (National Forces), a reference to irregular forces that led the Turkish independence war back in early the 1920s.

In the session yesterday, Küçük told the court he had done nothing wrong during his military career and said his name was being used to attack the standing of the military. He described the accusations made against him as "tragic and comical."

"I said the eastern problem was not a Kurdish problem, but an Armenian problem. Some people did not like that and that is why I am here," said Küçük.

He dismissed the existence of the Gendarmerie Intelligence Services, or JİTEM, by saying, "The indictment against me keeps referring to JİTEM, which does not exist."

Küçük also denied any involvement in the Susurluk Scandal.

Susurluk scandal

On Nov. 3, 1996 a car had rear-ended a truck driven by Hasan Gökçe. Reports stated Mehmet Özbay, Police Chief Hüseyin Kocadağ and model Gonca Us died in the accident, and a True Path Party, or DYP, deputy from Şanlıurfa, Sedat Edip Bucak, was seriously injured. It was later noted Özbay was an alias used by right-wing militant Abdullah Çatlı, the subject of an outstanding arrest warrant for the killing of seven left-wing students. The media interpreted the accident as proof there were illicit links between politicians, police and the mafia. Most of the trials linked to the Susurluk Scandal ended with verdicts of not guilty. Küçük said yesterday, "There are claims I am at the center of the Susurluk Scandal," and added he had followed the story in the media. He said again that the scandal was a ploy to harm the standing of the military.