Prosecutor stops Turkey's coup plot operations for now

Turkish police have carried out a major operation to detain military officers in connection with an alleged 2003 coup plot.

Prosecutor stops Turkey's coup plot operations for now

Turkish police launched a major operation to detain up to 90 military officers in connection with an alleged 2003 coup plot, before being stopped by the chief prosecutor of Istanbul, Turkish media reported on Tuesday.

Istanbul Chief Prosecutor Aykut Cengiz Engin told reporters on Tuesday he had replaced the two junior prosecutors who had ordered Monday's burst of detentions across 14 provinces, but gave no details.

His action illustrated the struggle going on between the senior judiciary and more junior prosecutors.

Accounts of how many officers were actually detained before Engin ordered a stop varied.

Most newspapers said between 14 and 19 retired officers, including several generals were being held, but police were stopped from serving warrants on dozens more.

NTV news channel reported that six people were brought to court on Tuesday, including former National Security Council General Secretary Sukru Sariisik.

Both the Istanbul chief prosecutor's office and police declined to comment on the detentions, and the state-run Anatolian news agency gave no figure on the number being held.

Reforms

Turkey, which has the second largest army in NATO, was first rocked by an investigation into the alleged "Sledgehammer" plot in February, when the first round of arrests were made.

Scores of officers were detained then and in another wave of arrests, but most have been freed on bail pending indictments.

The military says there was no conspiracy and Operation Sledgehammer was merely a war game exercise presented at a seminar. The operation involved bombing mosques and provoking Greece into shooting down a Turkish war plane to create a war like situation and destabilise the government.

Turks have been stunned by the procession of senior officers, including the former heads of the navy, air force and prestigious First Army, pulled in by prosecutors.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan is trying to push through constitutional reforms that critics say would allow the AK to pack the superior court benches with its own nominees.

The AK denies this, saying the reforms are needed to strengthen Turkey's democracy and meet norms needed to gain entry to the European Union.

Parliament is expected to vote on the reform package later this month, and if the government fails to get the two-thirds majority needed Erdogan intends calling a national referendum.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Nisan 2010, 16:28

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