Turkish Court To Hear Coup Plot Case In Oct


Peninsula On-line
July 26 2008

A Turkish court agreed yesterday to hear a case against 86 people
accused of a plot to overthrow the government, which media reports
said included a plan to assassinate a top general.

The investigation into the ultra-nationalist group known as Ergenekon
has rattled markets and increased political tensions in Turkey, which
has also been unsettled by a legal effort to shut down the ruling AK
Party for Islamist activities.

"Istanbul’s penal court has accepted the indictment of 86 suspects as
part of the Ergenekon investigation," state-run Anatolian news agency
said. A source from the court confirmed that it had accepted the case.

The defendants, including the head of a small nationalist party, a
newspaper editor and retired army officers, face charges including
incitement to armed insurrection, aiding a terrorist group and
possession of explosives.

In the last 50 years, military coups have ousted four elected
governments in NATO-member Turkey, a predominantly Muslim but
officially secular country seeking to join the European Union.

CNN Turk television, which broadcast footage showing pages from
the near-2,500 page indictment, said the court would hold its first
hearing on October 20 in Silvri prison, near Istanbul.

It reported the indictment as saying the group had planned to
assassinate the current head of the armed forces General Yasar
Buyukanit in 2005 when he was the head of the Turkish land forces. It
said there was no evidence of a link between the group and the army.

It said Ergenekon had also planned to attack Turkish novelist and Nobel
Prize winner Orhan Pamuk and the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party.

Pamuk is loathed by Turkish nationalists for saying Turkey was
responsible for the deaths of more than a million Armenians during
World War One and of 30,000 Kurds in recent decades.


A power struggle between rival elites, one made up of the militant
secularist establishment and the other of government supporters,
seems to be playing out in the Turkish courts.

The shadowy Ergenekon group first came to light a year ago when a cache
of explosives was discovered in a police raid on an Istanbul house.

Two senior retired generals, businessmen and journalists-all critical
of the AK Party-have been arrested as part of the investigation
but have not yet been charged. A further 26 people were detained on
Wednesday on suspicion of involvement.

Media reports say Ergenekon had planned to trigger a coup by inciting
civil disobedience and stirring doubts among citizens about the health
of Turkey’s economy.

Some analysts see the investigation as revenge for the legal attempt
to close the AK Party in the Constitutional Court, which will begin
its deliberations on Monday. Analysts expect a verdict in that case
by early August.

The AK Party rejects suggestions that it brought any pressure to bear
in the Ergenekon investigation.

A prosecutor has accused the Islamist-rooted party of seeking to
introduce Islamic rule in Turkey and is trying to ban Prime Minister
Tayyip Erdogan, President Abdullah Gul and 69 leading party members
from party membership for five years.

Hardline secularists dismiss the AK Party leadership’s arguments
that it has abandoned its Islamist roots and point to an attempt to
allow the wearing of the Islamic headscarf in universities as just
one proof of its intentions.