Turkish prosecutors indict alleged coup plotters
The accusations are stirring tensions between the Islamic government and secular nationalists in military and intellectual circles.
Prosecutors in Turkey filed charges Monday against 86 military and civilian suspects accused of plotting to overthrow the government. The case highlights the tensions between the Islamic-oriented ruling party and ultranationalist forces in military and intellectual circles, where there is deep suspicion of Islamic politicians.Skip to next paragraph
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A separate case is pending in the constitutional court against the Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. If found guilty of subverting Turkey's secular system of government, the party could be dissolved and its leaders barred from politics. The two cases have become battlegrounds in Turkey's ongoing struggle between secular nationalists and Islamic-oriented politicians.
Turkey is a NATO member that in recent months has conducted air raids and sent troops across the border with northern Iraq to attack Kurdish militia opposed to Turkey's rule in its Kurdish-dominated southeast. It has a history of military takeovers that have weakened democratic institutions. This is one of the reasons its admission to the European Union sees delays. Some nationalists are opposed to joining the EU as it demands too many economic and political concessions.
The Financial Times reports that Istanbul chief prosecutor Aykut Cengiz Engin accused the 86 of being members of an armed terrorist group and attempting to use force to topple the government. Although they were not named publicly, the accused are linked to Ergenekon, a shadowy far-right organization that includes disaffected retired Army officers, academics, lawyers, writers, and fringe politicians. A separate indictment is pending against two retired generals and 19 others who were detained earlier this month as part of the same investigation, Mr. Engin said.
Agence-France Presse reports that the 86 defendants are accused of involvement in the bombing of a pro-secular newspaper and the killing of a senior judge in 2006. Both attacks were originally blamed on Islamist militants. In June 2007, police seized explosives from a house in Istanbul, triggering the current investigation into Ergenekon. Of the 86 suspects, 48 are in custody.
A court in Istanbul must decide within two weeks whether to proceed with a trial of the suspects, reports the Los Angeles Times. Political tensions arising from the coup plot and the constitutional case against the AKP have already paralyzed policymaking and damaged Turkey's economic standing.