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Turkish police arrest 12 more over alleged coup plot

[JURIST] Turkish police on Sunday arrested 12 more people and detained an additional 33 in an investigation of an alleged plot to overthrow the government of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) [party website]. The arrests on Sunday follow the detention [JURIST report] last week of the former head of the police anti-terror unit and three retired generals, one of whom was later released [AP report]. There are now over 100 suspects in custody for the alleged plot, including journalists, academics, and Turkish Workers' Party [party website, in Turkish] leader Dogu Perincek [JURIST report]. All were outspoken opponents of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [BBC profile], whose AKP party narrowly escaped a ban [JURIST report] last year for allegedly undermining the country's secular principles.

In October, the High Criminal Court in Istanbul began the trial [JURIST report] of 86 defendants in the coup investigation. The accused are said to belong to the secular Ergenekon group, believed responsible for bombing the headquarters of the newspaper Cumhuriyet [media website, in Turkish], assassinating Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink [BBC obituary], and planning other attacks to provoke a military coup to topple the AKP. Critics allege that the AKP has improperly investigated secular groups as part of a drive to impose Islamic principles [Haaretz report] on the country in violation of the its secular constitution [text].

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