More military officers charged as ex-Turkish generals freed

A Turkish court charged 11 more ranking officers for allegedly plotting in 2003 to topple the government as three retired military commanders were freed.

More military officers charged as ex-Turkish generals freed

A Turkish court on Friday charged 11 more ranking officers for allegedly plotting in 2003 to topple the government as three retired military commanders were freed.

The court's decision to jail them came after prosecutors late Thursday 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.

"We don't believe they intend to destroy any evidence. And as they did not leave their places of residence after we let them go two to three months ago, we released them on the belief they would not attempt to escape this time either," Anadolu news agency reported Istanbul Deputy Chief Prosecutor Turan Colakkadi as saying.

Friday's charges increased the number of officers jailed to 31 - including seven admirals and four generals.

Erdogan will attend an AK Party function scheduled for Friday morning.

President Abdullah Gul had earlier held crisis talks with Erdogan and General Ilker Basbug, head of the military, and issued a statement assuring Turks that the country's problems would be resolved "within the framework of the constitution".

"Everyone must act responsibly to prevent harm to our institutions," Gul said.

Erdogan described the meeting as having gone "very well", and said there were no plans for a snap poll, broadcasters reported. Parliamentary elections are due in 2011.

The 11 most recently charged officers included two active-duty admirals and one retired general.

The swoop, one of the largest in the country against the armed forces, followed reports of several alleged plots in the past year.

According to previous media reports on the Sledgehammer plan, denied by the military, the army had plotted to provoke Greek fighter jets into shooting down a Turkish military jet and planned to plant bombs in mosques and museums in Istanbul to stir chaos.

Last month Taraf newspaper said it had obtained 5,000 pages of documents and tapes on the Sledgehammer plan, which was aimed at showing the AK Party was unable to protect the public and to justify an army takeover in 2003.

The military has said documents quoted by the paper were part of a military training seminar but were "never meant to be carried out and were not part of a conspiracy".

Friday morning, police escorted the last three of almost 50 high-ranking officers who were detained Monday to the court. They included Gen. Cetin Dogan, the former chief of the 1st Army based in Istanbul, and Gen. Engin Alan, former head of the Special Forces.

Wiretap evidence and the discovery of alleged plans for a military coup prompted this week's detentions. The recordings that were published on leading Web sites were allegedly conversations between ranking commanders at a military unit under Dogan's command in Istanbul.


Agencies

Last Mod: 26 Şubat 2010, 11:39
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