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Turkish soldiers go on trial for anti-government plot

ISTANBUL — Daily News with wires | 4/9/2010 12:00:00 AM |

A Turkish admiral and 16 other suspects went on trial Friday on charges of involvement in a plot to discredit and unseat the government, Anatolia news agency reported. (UPDATED)

A Turkish admiral and 16 other suspects went on trial Friday on charges of involvement in a plot to discredit and unseat the conservative government, Anatolia news agency reported.

It was one of several cases to emerge from a long-running probe into a network of both soldiers and civilians, which allegedly plotted to foment political chaos and prompt a military coup against the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, Agence-France Presse reported.

The judge rejected applications from defense lawyers that the case be transferred to a military court. The suspects include Admiral Levent Görgeç, 14 navy officers and two retired soldiers -- all of whom have denied the charges.

They are accused of involvement in plans to stage false-flag attacks against Istanbul's tiny non-Muslim communities, notably Armenians -- including abductions, arsons and bombings -- and create the impression that AKP policies encouraged Islamist extremism and violence in Turkey. The plan is often referred to as "Kafes" (Cage).

The charge sheet says the suspects also planned to bomb a navy submarine, exhibited at an Istanbul museum, during visiting hours.

The investigation that landed the soldiers in court was launched last year when police dug up hand grenades, light anti-tank weapons and explosives from a field in Istanbul, used as a training ground by the navy.

The prosecution is seeking life sentences for five defendants, up to 39 years for another, and up to 15 years for the other 11, including the admiral. Dozens of other suspects are already on trial as part of the investigation into the so-called Ergenekon network.

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