Turkish court acquits all 236 suspects in coup plot retrial

A Turkish court on Tuesday acquitted more than 200 army officers accused of plotting a coup against the Islamic-rooted government in 2003.

AFP| Updated: Mar 31, 2015, 21:26 PM IST

Istanbul: A Turkish court on Tuesday acquitted more than 200 army officers accused of plotting a coup against the Islamic-rooted government in 2003.

A total of 236 suspects in the so-called Sledgehammer (Balyoz) case were retried by an Istanbul court after Turkey`s top court last year quashed their original convictions.

All were acquitted, the private NTV television reported.

In 2012, hundreds of officers were convicted when a court ruled that an army exercise in 2003 codenamed "Sledgehammer" was an undercover coup plot against then prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan`s government.

But last year, the court ordered their release after the constitutional court ruled that the original trial was flawed.

Turkey`s once-powerful army, which considers itself the self-appointed guardian of secular rule, has staged three coups since 1960 and forced out an Islamic government in 1997.

As prime minister, Erdogan worked to curb the military`s influence through a series of trials which were criticised by rights groups which questioned their impartiality.

But Erdogan, now president, has since sought to mend fences with the army after his government was implicated in a vast corruption scandal -- which he blamed on his ally-turned-opponent Fethullah Gulen.