Turkish court formally charges 7 military officers in alleged coup plot
ISTANBUL — Daily News with wires | 2/24/2010 12:00:00 AM |
A Turkish court has formally charged and jailed seven senior Turkish military officers for allegedly plotting several years ago to overthrow the government. (UPDATED)
A Turkish court has formally charged and jailed seven senior Turkish military officers for allegedly plotting several years ago to overthrow the government, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Turkish military's top commanders gathered Tuesday and said in a statement that the detentions constituted a "serious situation." The high-profile case has drawn international attention, eliciting statements of concern from the European Union and the United States.
The wiretap evidence and discovery of alleged military plans drafted in 2003 to overthrow the government led to the detention of about 50 commanders Monday in the highest-profile crackdown ever on the military, which has ousted four governments since 1960.
A court in Istanbul ordered that four admirals, an Army general and two staff colonels be jailed. It released six other officers Wednesday, but it was not clear whether they were freed pending trial.
They were among around 50 military figures — including the former chiefs of the navy and air force, Özden Örnek and İbrahim Fırtına — who were rounded up Monday in the toughest action so far targeting the influential Turkish army, Agence France-Presse reported.
Örnek and Fırtına were expected to be questioned by prosecutors later Wednesday before a court decides whether to release them or jail them pending trial.
Those arrested include Adm. Ramazan Cem Gündeniz, Adm. Aziz Çakmak, retired Gen. Mehmet Kaya Varol, retired Adm. Ali Deniz Kutluk and retired Adm. Özer Karabulut, Anatolia news agency reported.
The current and retired members of the Turkish military were detained for suspected connections to the “Balyoz” (Sledgehammer) Operation, an alleged military coup plan against the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, written in 2003 and brought to light by the daily Taraf in January.
[HH] EU voices concern
The European Commission on Tuesday voiced concern at the "serious allegations" of coup plotting in Turkey and called for "exemplary ... fair" trials, Agence France-Presse reported.
The allegations are a "a serious matter of concern" and "Turkish citizens are entitled to hear the entire truth on these cases," a spokeswoman for EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said.
"That's why the investigation must be exemplary and carried out in full respect of the principles and standards of a fair judicial process," spokeswoman Angela Filote added.
"We're following very closely" the events in Istanbul, the EU spokeswoman said.
Turkey has been an official EU candidate country since 2004, but the talks have proceeded slowly since then, with no firm offer of eventual membership on the table.
[HH] Washington urges transparency
U.S. diplomats reacted cautiously Tuesday to Turkey's arrest of dozens of suspects in the Balyoz case, urging transparency in any ensuing trials or other legal procedures, Agence France-Presse reported.
"We want to see this proceed in a transparent process in accordance to Turkish law," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters.
"We value our relationship with Turkey, our interaction with the Turkish government."