Thursday, February 25, 2010
Turkey charges more officers over coup plot
A Turkish court has charged eight more officers for tying to topple the Ankara government in 2003, bringing the number of coup suspects under investigation to 20.
The eight suspects, including two serving admirals, three retired admirals and a retired one-star general, were grilled several hours overnight and were remanded in custody in military and civilian prisons in Istanbul.
On Wednesday, the Istanbul court handling the probe ordered that 12 suspects questioned by prosecutors earlier should be kept in jail pending trial, but also decided to release around 10 other suspects.
Turkey's anti-terrorism police on Monday arrested about 50 serving and retired military figures, including the former chiefs of the navy and air force, Ozden Ornek and Ibrahim Firtina, in what the country's army described "a serious situation."
The army said top commanders held an emergency meeting to discuss the situation, prompting a warning from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) against any moves to influence the judiciary.
Turkey's military which traditionally carries a great political weight has unseated four governments in the country.
The 2003 coup plot in question was codenamed "Operation Sledgehammer" and was allegedly planned and discussed in 2003 within the Istanbul-based First Army, soon after the AKP came to power in 2002.
The plot allegedly involved plans to bomb mosques and provoke tensions with Greece in a bid to force the targeting of a Turkish jet, and thus discrediting the government and leading to its collapse.