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More Senior Military Figures Charged Over Alleged Turkey 'Plot'


More than 30 Turkish military officers have been detained in connection with allegations of a plot to oust the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Two more retired generals have been charged with plotting to unseat the Turkish government amid a massive crackdown on the military.

Retired General Cetin Dogan, a former head of Turkey's First Army, and Lieutenant General Engin Alan, a former special forces commander, are among the most prominent military figures to be charged so far in connection with the alleged 2003 coup plot.

The two men are accused of plotting to blow up mosques, overthrow the Turkish government, and stage a military takeover.

An Istanbul court charged Dogan and Alan late on February 26 over coup allegations and remanded them in custody pending trial.

Dogan's lawyer, Celal Urger, said the court-ordered arrests were symptomatic of "serious judiciary problems in Turkey."

"The judiciary system is under serious danger in Turkey," Urger warned.

The ruling came just hours after police reportedly detained 18 current and former officers, bringing to more than 30 the number of military men arrested and charged in connection with the alleged plot against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

This is the largest-ever crackdown on Turkey's powerful military, with more than 60 current or retired officers detained this week.

All suspects have denied the allegations, which include plotting to blow up mosques, bring down a Turkish jet, and kill several non-Muslim figures to trigger chaos and justify a military takeover.

Erdogan on February 26 vowed to take action against anyone conspiring against the country's government.

"No one is above the law, no one is untouchable, no one is privileged," Erdogan said in televised remarks.

Turkey's military has wielded strong influence on politics for decades. Since 1960, it has ousted as many as four civilian governments.

In past years, however, its cloud has waned as a result of Erdogan's measures put the military under civilian rule.

The latest arrests have triggered a fall on the Turkish stock index and raised concerns of a clash between the secularist military and Erdogan's powerful, Islamist-oriented Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Rejecting accusations that his government is seeking to discredit the army, Erdogan hailed this week's crackdown as the sign of an "advanced democracy."

Erdogan had met with President Abdullah Gul and the Turkish armed forces' chief general, Ilker Basbug, over the crisis on February 25. Erdogan had emerged from those discussions appearing to ease tensions, saying the discussions went "very well."

compiled from agency reports