Turk­ish mil­i­tary of­fi­cers charged in plot to top­ple gov­ern­ment

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey’s prime min­is­ter vowed Fri­day to put every­one who con­spired against the coun­try’s democ­racy on trial, as the num­ber of mil­i­tary of­fi­cers charged and jailed for al­legedly plot­ting a 2003 coup against his Is­lamic-based gov­ern­ment rose to 31.

That fig­ure, which in­cluded seven ad­mi­rals and four gen­er­als, rep­re­sents the largest-ever crack­down on Turkey’s mil­i­tary, which has ousted four civil­ian gov­ern­ments since 1960. In a fresh na­tion­wide sweep on Fri­day, po­lice de­tained 18 more of­fi­cers, all but one of whom are still on ac­tive duty, tele­vi­sion sta­tions said.

The of­fi­cers were de­tained in 13 dif­fer­ent cities and were be­ing trans­ferred to Is­tan­bul, the re­ports said. That brings the to­tal of of­fi­cers de­tained this week to 67.

The mil­i­tary has wielded strong in­flu­ence on pol­i­tics for decades but has seen its pow­ers dra­mat­i­cally cur­tailed by Prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayy ip Er­do­gan’s gov­ern­ment, which took steps to put the mil­i­tary un­der civil­ian rule.

“ A n im­paired democ­racy is not the fate of this coun­try,” Er­do­gan told law­mak­ers at a tele­vised meet­ing Fri­day. “No one is above the law, no one is un­touch­able, no one is priv­i­leged.”

The probe has fu­eled ten­sions be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the fiercely sec­u­lar mil­i­tary and shaken the mar­kets, but Er­do­gan has dis­missed calls by op­po­si­tion par­ties for early elec­tions.

“Th e process un­der way is painstak­ing, but it is for the ben­e­fit of the peo­ple, to­day’s de­vel­op­ments are set­ting free the con­scious­ness of the peo­ple,” Er­do­gan said. “Those con­spir­ing be­hind closed doors to tram­ple on the na­tion’s will from now on will find them­selves fac­ing jus­tice.”

He added: “ They should know that they won’t get away with it.”

E rd o g a n , Pres­i­dent Ab­dul­lah Gul and mil­i­tary chief Gen. Ilker Bas­bug held a rare meet­ing Thurs­day, later is­su­ing a joint state­ment seek­ing to ease ten­sions.

“ The pub­lic must be as­sured that mat­ters will be han­dled in line with the law and every­one should act re­spon­si­bly not to dam­age in­sti­tu­tions,” the state­ment said.

The 11 most re­cently charged of­fi­cers in­cluded two ac­tive-duty ad­mi­rals and one re­tired gen­eral. 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, say­ing they were un­likely to flee.

On Fri­day morn­ing, po­lice es­corted more of­fi­cers to the court for ques­tion­ing, in­clud­ing Gen. Cetin Do­gan, the for­mer chief of the 1st Army based in Is­tan­bul and Gen. En­gin Alan, for­mer head of the Spe­cial Forces.

All sus­pects have re­port­edly de­nied the al­le­ga­tions, which in­clude plot­ting to blow up mosques and kill some nonMus­lim fig­ures to fo­ment chaos and trig­ger a mil­i­tary takeover.

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