Nearly 200 Turkish military officers go on trial tomorrow

Former Air Force Commander Gen. Ibrahim Firtin is among those suspected of plotting to topple Turkey

From Daren Butler, Reuters:  Nearly 200 Turkish military officers, retired and serving, go on trial on Thursday accused of trying to undermine the government in a case that risks reviving tension with the secularist armed forces.

The alleged plot, dubbed "Operation Sledgehammer," harks back to 2003 and involved plans to bomb historic mosques and provoke conflict with Greece to destabilize the AK Party government of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and open the way for military intervention. …

A wave of detentions during the first phase of investigations in Sledgehammer earlier this year shocked Turks unused to seeing top brass being escorted to court.

In another demonstration of the civilians’ ascendancy, ministers later suspended three generals accused of involvement in the alleged plot.

The accusations against 196 defendants, who include former top commanders, center on a seminar where ways to undermine the government were discussed. Prosecutors are demanding up to 20 years imprisonment for high-ranking officers.

The defendants deny any conspiracy and say scenarios discussed at a seminar were merely a war game exercise. …

"It is critical also because three-quarters of the accused are still on duty, and if the judges find it necessary to issue arrest warrants, the army apparatus may suffer seriously," said Yavuz Baydar, columnist for the daily Today’s Zaman.  (photo: AP)

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