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Turkish court green-lights investigation of former top general

Turkey Materials 22 July 2011 02:23
In an unprecedented move, a Turkish court Thursday ordered that a retired chief of general staff should be investigated for a fatal bomb attack on a Kurdish bookshop, reported DPA.
Turkish court green-lights investigation of former top general

In an unprecedented move, a Turkish court Thursday ordered that a retired chief of general staff should be investigated for a fatal bomb attack on a Kurdish bookshop, DPA reported.

A court in the eastern province of Van ordered prosecutors to investigate General Yasar Buyukanit for a November 2005 bombing that killed one person in the town of Semdinli, the news agency Anadolu reported.

Buyukanit was then commander of the Turkish Army. He was promoted to chief of general staff in August 2006 and served two years as the number-one commander in the Turkish military.

It is the first time that prosecutors have been allowed to investigate a former chief of general staff for a crime.

The move shows the balance of power in Turkey is shifting away from the military - which has toppled four governments since 1960 - towards civilian authority.

In early 2006, a Van prosecutor, Ferhat Sarikaya, summoned Buyukanit for questioning about the grenade that was thrown into the bookshop. Three low-ranking members of the Gendarmerie had been arrested, but Sarikaya suspected that senior military officers were involved.

Sarikaya lost his job and was later disbarred for having "exceeded his authority." Last April he was re-admitted to the bar.

The involvement of the Gendarmerie, the paramilitary police in Turkey's countryside, in the bombing led to riots in which several people were killed.

Buyukanit himself caused controversy when he praised one of the three suspects as a "very valuable soldier."

All three accused were convicted and sentenced, but an Appeal Court annulled the verdict and ordered a retrial, which has not taken place yet.

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