Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Investigators removed and arrests scrapped over Turkey 'coup plot'

Istanbul's chief prosecutor said that two investigators had been removed from the inquiry into an alleged 2003 plot to topple Turkey's Islamic-rooted government and orders for a new wave of arrests scrapped.

ISTANBUL // Istanbul's chief prosecutor said yesterday that two investigators had been removed from the inquiry into an alleged 2003 plot to topple Turkey's Islamic-rooted government and orders for a new wave of arrests scrapped. The chief prosecutor Aykut Cengiz Engin said the two had been given a "change of duties" while "the [arrest] operations have been suspended as the newly assigned prosecutors need some time to study the files."

The two prosecutors had reportedly issued arrest warrants for some 90 new suspects on Monday without seeking approval from their superiors as required. There were conflicting reports on how many were detained on Monday before the operation was halted, with newspapers putting the figure between 14 and 20. Clashes between judicial officials have become frequent in recent months amid a series of controversial investigations into alleged plots to destabilise or unseat the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The investigation into the coup plan - the toughest action ever against the influential Turkish army - began in February when dozens of serving and retired officers were arrested, among them the former navy and air force chiefs. Opponents have accused the government of using the investigation to discredit the staunchly-secularist army, while supporters have hailed it as a milestone in pushing the generals out of politics and improving Turkish democracy.

The coup plan was allegedly drawn up shortly after the AKP, a moderate offshoot of a banned Islamist party, came to power in November 2002 amid fears it would undermine Turkey's secular system. It reportedly involved plans to bomb mosques and provoke tensions with Greece, thus sparking political chaos and justifying a military takeover. Police had initially detained some 70 serving and retired officers and about 40 of them were charged and jailed, pending trial.

Most were later released by a judge who cited "lack of a strong suspicion" that the suspects had committed the alleged crime. But in a fresh twist on Sunday, prosecutors secured a court order to put 21 suspects back in prison, including the alleged ringleader, the retired four-star general, Cetin Dogan. The plot was first reported in January by the Taraf newspaper, which routinely targets the army. The daily said it had obtained documents and audio tapes indicating that a coup was planned and discussed at the Istanbul-based First Army.

Gen Dogan - the commander of the First Army at the time - 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. * Agence France-Presse

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 A view of a defaced portrait of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during an anti-North Korean rally on the 102nd birthday of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung in central Seoul. Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters

Best photography from around the world, April 15

The National View's photo editors pick the best images of the day from around the world.

 The Doha-based Youssef Al Qaradawi speaks to the crowd as he leads Friday prayers in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt in February, 2011. The outspoken pro-Muslim Brotherhood imam has been critical of the UAE’s policies toward Islamist groups, adding to friction between Qatar and other GCC states. Khalil Hamra / AP Photo

Brotherhood imam skips Doha sermon, but more needed for GCC to reconcile

That Youssef Al Qaradawi did not speak raises hopes that the spat involving Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain might be slowly moving towards a resolution.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 An Afghan election commission worker carries a ballot box at a vote counting centre in Jalalabad on April 6. A roadside bomb hit a truck carrying full ballot boxes in northern Afghanistan, killing three people a day after the country voted for a successor to President Hamid Karzai. Eight boxes of votes were destroyed in the blast, which came as the three leading candidates voiced concerns about possible fraud. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP Photo

Two pressing questions for Afghanistan’s future president

Once in office, the next Afghan president must move fast to address important questions that will decide the immediate future of the country.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Supporters of Turkey's ruling AKP cheer as they follow the election's results in front of the party's headquarters in Ankara on March 30. Adem Altan/ AFP Photo

Erdogan critic fears retaliation if he returns to Turkey

Emre Uslu is a staunch critic of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, with a mass crackdown on opposition expected, he is unsure when he can return home.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National