Türk Mahkemesi Yedi Ordu Mensubunu Tutukladı - Turkish Court Jails Seven Millitary Officers

02/27/2010 00:00:00

Posted : Wed, 24 Feb 2010 15:12:20 GMT

By : dpa

Istanbul - A TurkishcourtWednesday decided to formallychargeandjailsevenseniormilitary officers, among them two admirals on active duty, in connection with anallegedplottooverthrowTurkey's liberal Islamic government. The jailed officers were among a group of some 50 serving and former high-ranking military commanders who were rounded up on Monday in connection with the allegedcoupplot. Among those arrested were the former heads of the Navy and Air Force.

The arrests were the first ever in Turkey's history of such top-level officers, previously considered"untouchable". The powerful Turkish military, which sees itself as the ultimate guardian of the country's secular system, hasstagefour coups since 1960.

Those arrested are suspected of being part of a plandraftedin 2003 - allegedly code named"Sledgehammer"- which aimed to create chaos and politicalturbulencein the hopes of removing the government of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The plan, first revealed in documentsleakedto the liberal Taraf newspaper, possiblyincludedthe bombing of popular mosques and theratcheting- upof military tensions with Aegean neighbor Greece.

The Turkish military has denied the coup plotallegationsand has called the arrest of the commanders a "serious situation."

The arrests comeat a timeof increased political tension between the Turkish government and its secularist opponents.

European Union-candidate Turkey is currentlyconductinga trial into another alleged coup plot, known as "Ergenekon." Some 400 people, includingjournalists,academicsand politicians have been arrested in connection with that trial.

Critics of the government have accused it of using the coup allegations as a way ofgetting rid ofits opponents. Devlet Bahceli, leader of the opposition Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) described the recent arrest of the high-ranking officers as a "statecrisis."

Government officials have denied that politics arebehindthe arrests, saying the investigation is part of anongoingeffort tostrengthendemocracy in Turkey and bring further civilianoversightover the military.

EU officials in Brussels called the coup allegations "serious," but also called on Ankara toconductfairtrials.


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