Turkish court continues bringing charges against officers in alleged coup plot

[JURIST] A Turkish court charged an additional 11 military officers Friday morning as the investigation into the military's so-called "Sledgehammer plot" to overthrow the government continues, bringing the total charged so far to 31. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke at a Justice Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish] meeting, vowing [AFP report] that all those involved in the plot would stand trial. Police also arrested 18 more officers [Reuters report] Friday, bringing the total detained to more than 50. Tensions between the military and the government appeared to ease after three top generals were released [JURIST report] from custody Thursday. Turkey's prime minister and president met [Reuters report] with the head of the armed forces, General Ilker Basbug, for three hours on Thursday, discussing ways to resolve the situation.

Twelve officers were charged in the alleged plot Wednesday after mass arrests [JURIST reports] Monday resulted in the detention of more than 40. Arrests and charges began after the newspaper Taraf [official website, in Turkish] revealed the 2003 Balyoz Security Operation Plan [Taraf report, in Turkish], or "Sledgehammer plot," last month. The plot included detailed plans to bomb Istanbul mosques and provoke Greece into shooting down a Turkish plane as part of an effort to undermine the government. Turkey's secular nationalist establishment, including the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) [official website, in Turkish], has had tense relations with the AKP government, which is accused of having radical Islamic ambitions. The TAF has been Turkey's strongest and most trusted institution for years. The military drafted the country's current constitution in 1982 after a coup d'état, one of four times that the military has overthrown the government in the past 50 years. The Sledgehammer plot is similar to the Ergenekon [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] conspiracy, in which the secular group is suspected of planning to overthrow [JURIST report] the AKP. The Ergenekon group is also alleged to be involved in bombings, political assassination plots, and the death of journalist Hrant Dink [BBC obituary]. Trials in the Ergenekon conspiracy [JURIST report] opened two years ago with more than 200 suspects in custody.

 

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