Arrest warrant for 102 suspects in Turkey coup case: Report

Last Updated: Friday, July 23, 2010 - 23:54

Istanbul: A Turkish court on Friday issued an
arrest warrant for 102 suspects, among them senior military
figures, charged over an alleged 2003 coup plan, media reports
said.

The court also set the first hearing in the
high-profile case for December 16 in a prison complex near
Istanbul, said judge Davut Bedir as he announced the warrant,
Anatolia news agency reported.

Two senior serving admirals and three retired generals
were among the suspects included on the warrant, according to
a news channel.

A total of 196 defendants will stand trial over the
alleged coup plan -- codenamed Operation Sledgehammer -- under
a charge sheet approved by the judicial authorities Monday.

The plan was allegedly drawn up and discussed at the
Istanbul base of the First Army in 2003, shortly after the
Justice and Development Party (AKP), the offshoot of a banned
Islamist movement, came to power amid fears it would undermine
Turkey`s secular system.

The warrant included admirals Mehmet Otuzbiroglu and
Kadir Sagdic, commanders of the navy`s northern and southern
flanks respectively.

Also on the list were Cetin Dogan, the alleged
mastermind of the coup plan who headed the First Army at the
time, as well as the former chiefs of the navy and the air
force, Ozden Ornek and Ibrahim Firtina, all now retired, it
said.

The suspects are expected to be first invited to turn
themselves in.

The probe into the coup plan -- the toughest action so
far against the influential army -- followed the indictment
since 2007 of dozens of other soldiers and civilians, among
them journalists and academics, over a series of alleged plots
to destabilise and topple the AKP.

The probes have sharply polarised Turkey and sparked
political tensions.

Proponents back the judicial onslaught as a boost to
democracy in a country where the army has long meddled in
politics and unseated four governments since 1960.

Government opponents however argue that AKP cronies
within the state are leading a campaign based on fabricated
evidence to disable the staunchly secularist army and give the
AKP a free hand in pursuing Islamist ambitions.

Some 40 serving and retired soldiers, including Dogan,
were initially arrested after the coup probe began in
February.

They were all subsequently released pending trial amid
accusations that prosecutors had issued arrest rulings
liberally and were effectively punishing suspects before the
charges had been proven in court.

PTI



First Published: Friday, July 23, 2010 - 23:54

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