Turkish court charges 11 more senior officers in coup plot, a total of 31 jailed

By Selcan Hacaoglu, AP
Thursday, February 25, 2010

Turkish court charges 11 more officers

ANKARA, Turkey — A Turkish court on Friday charged 11 more ranking officers for allegedly plotting several years ago to topple the Islamic-rooted government, increasing the number of officers jailed to 31 — including retired and active seven admirals and four generals.

The 11 newly charged officers included two active duty admirals and one retired general, pending trial. The court’s decision came hours after prosecutors released the former chiefs of the navy and air force and another top general without immediately charging them with being involved, saying they were unlikely to flee.

The government detained 49 high-ranking officers this week for allegedly plotted to overthrow his government in 2003, a year after the ruling party came to power.

The probe fueled tensions between Turkey’s two main political forces — the Islamic-based government and the fiercely secular military — worrying businesses and investors and jolting the markets.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed opposition calls for early elections and met with the country’s military chief on Thursday to defuse tensions over the government’s probe.

Opposition leaders claim the coup probe is tinged by politics, a charge the government rejects. It says it is trying to put the military, which has ousted four civilian governments since 1960, under civilian rule, just like it is done in Western democracies.

The charges are largely based on wiretap evidence and the discovery of alleged plans for a military coup drafted in 2003. Some are accused of plotting to blow up mosques and kill some non-Muslim figures to foment chaos and trigger a military takeover.

It is widely believed that Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, then head of the military, did not back his subordinates. He has not been implicated in the alleged plot.

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