Soldiers realsed in Turkey plot probe

2009-12-30 09:52

 

Eight soldiers detained over an alleged plot against Turkey’s

deputy prime minister were released overnight after five days of questioning,

Anatolia news agency reported Wednesday.

The probe has fanned tensions in Turkey where dozens of suspects,

among them retired generals, are on trial on charges of plotting assassinations

and political unrest to prompt a coup against the Islamist-rooted

government.

There has been no official word on what prompted the suspects’

detention Saturday and an ensuing large-scale search at the headquarters of the

army’s special forces, where documents classified as “state secret” are

stored.

The prosecutor initially released five soldiers, while demanding

that the remaining three be jailed, but a court released them too after more

questioning, Anatolia said.

The probe began on December 19 after a colonel and a major were

caught near Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc’s home, reportedly after a

tip-off that they were involved in suspicious activity.

Relaying the police’s account, Arinc said one of the soldiers

attempted to swallow a paper with his address written on it.

The military has said the pair was tasked with following a fellow

soldier suspected of leaking information.

Some media have linked the incident to an assassination plot

against Arinc.

Noting that a prosecutor with special authorities was handling the

probe, legal experts have said the soldiers may be suspected of an even more

serious crime, such as involvement in a coup plot against the government.

Since 2007, prosecutors have been investigating the so-called

Ergenekon, an alleged secularist network accused of plotting political chaos to

oust the Justice and Development Party (AKP), the moderate offshoot of a

now-banned Islamist movement.

The probe, which has led to the discovery of several weapons

caches, was first hailed as a blow to the “deep state” -- a term used to

describe security officials acting outside the law to protect what they see as

the country’s best interests.

But its credibility waned as police began arresting secularist

journalists, academics and writers.

Government critics say the investigation has degenerated into a

campaign to disable the secularist opposition, notably by discrediting the army,

seen as the bulwark of Turkey’s secular system, and give the AKP a free hand in

realising what they suspect is a secret Islamist agenda.

The Turkish military has unseated four government since 1960, but

has kept a low profile over the past two years.

The army chief this month decried a “psychological campaign” to

smear the military and warned of a “confrontation between institutions.”


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