Turkish prosecutor fired for 'degrading army'

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The Independent Online

The Turkish Justice Ministry has sacked a prosecutor who angered the military by calling for an investigation into a senior general as part of a broader indictment alleging soldiers made a grenade attack on a bookstore owned by a former Kurdish rebel.

A ministry disciplinary board voted to dismiss Ferhat Sarikaya for "degrading the honour of the profession", the board said, without giving any further explanation. Mr Sarikaya can appeal, but board decisions are rarely overturned.

His call to investigate General Yasar Buyukanit, the land forces commander, was a shocking request in a nation where the military is deeply revered and where soldiers have staged three coups in the past few decades. There have been repeated claims of state-organised death squads targeting Kurdish rebels in south-east Turkey, but attempts to investigate killings have been thwarted amid pressure from administrations alleged to have backed the groups and the military.

In two weeks, the trial starts of two soldiers allegedly involved in November's attack, including one who General Buyukanit had referred to as "a good serviceman". Mr Sarikaya did not have the power to indict the general, and his indictment of the soldiers only called on the military to investigate charges against General Buyukanit.

Mr Sarikaya accused the general of abusing his powers between 1997 and 2000, when he headed the army in the south-east, and of setting up an illegal group to fight Kurdish rebels.

The soldiers' indictment, partly based on allegations made by a Kurdish businessman, claimed the attack was part of a plan to stoke tensions in the Kurdish south-east and undermine Turkey's bid for European Union membership.

General Buyukanit denied the allegations, and said he would appear in court if needed.