25 February 2010
Top Turkish officers charged over ‘coup plot’
Twenty military officers have been formally charged in Turkey with attempting to overthrow the government.
They include four admirals, a general and two colonels, some of them retired.
The men were among more than 40 officers arrested on Monday over an alleged 2003 plot to stir up chaos in Turkey and justify a military coup.
The head of the armed forces, General Ilker Basbug, will meet the country’s prime minister and president later to discuss the alleged plot and arrests.
The meeting was called after the country’s top generals and admirals met at short notice on Tuesday to evaluate what the military called a “serious situation”.
The scale of Monday’s operation against the military was unprecedented and increased the tension between the government and the armed forces.
Dozens of current or former members of the military have been arrested in the past few years over similar plot allegations, and some have been charged.
Turkish military faces crossroads
This is now turning into a critical test of the government’s authority over the military, says the BBC’s Jonathan Head in Istanbul. Never before have so many senior officers faced charges like this in a civilian court.
The charged men were arrested over the so-called “sledgehammer” plot, which reportedly dates back to 2003.
Reports of the alleged plot first surfaced in the liberal Taraf newspaper, which said it had discovered documents detailing plans to bomb two Istanbul mosques and provoke Greece into shooting down a Turkish plane over the Aegean Sea.
The army has said the plans had been discussed but only as part of a planning exercise at a military seminar.
The alleged plot is similar, and possibly linked, to the reported Ergenekon conspiracy, in which military figures and staunch secularists allegedly planned to foment unrest, leading to a coup.
Scores of people, including military officers, journalists and academics, are on trial in connection with that case.