Court annuls warrants against Turkish coup suspects: report

Court annuls warrants against Turkish coup suspects: report

An Istanbul court Friday annulled an arrest warrant issued against 102 Turkish officers, including 25 serving generals and admirals, over an alleged 2003 coup plot, AFP reported according to Anatolia news agency.

The court accepted the request for the annulment of the warrant filed by the officers' lawyers, Anatolia reported without providing details of the judge's decision.

The warrant was issued against the officers on July 23 after the discovery of an alleged coup plan codenamed Operation Sledgehammer.

The plot was reportedly hatched shortly after the Justice and Development Party (AKP), an offshoot of a banned Islamist movement, took power in Turkey in 2002.

The arrival of the AKP to power raised concerns among a significant portion of society and the military, which sees itself as the guardian of the secular nature of the Turkish state and which has unseated four governments since 1960.

The plotters allegedly planned to bomb mosques and provoke tensions with neighbouring Greece to spark political unrest and shape public opinion in favour of a military coup, before seizing power.

The alleged mastermind of the plot, former First Army commander and four-star general Cetin Dogan, was arrested last month and hospitalised the following day for heart problems.

He has denied the charges, arguing that papers from a contingency plan based on a scenario of domestic unrest had been doctored to look like a coup plot.
Several analysts have said the charges may an attempt by the government to block the advancement of officers it considers unfriendly. Officers on the arrest warrant were passed up for promotion on the annual list published this week.

A total of 196 suspects have been charged in the case in the toughest judicial action so far against the influential Turkish military.

The trial of the suspects had been due to start on December 16.

Several hundred people have been charged over the past two years as part of investigations into various alleged plots against the government.
The cases have split public opinion, with AKP supporters and some liberals viewing them as a step forward for democratisation and civilian control over the military.

Secular circles view the cases as an attempt by the AKP to silence the opposition and set the stage for the Islamisation of the country.

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