Two former generals indicted for plot to overthrow Turkish government

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The Independent Online

An Istanbul court has formally indicted 56 suspects, including two retired generals, on charges of plotting to topple Turkey's Islamic-rooted government.

The indictment is the second to emerge from a massive investigation into a secularist group that has stirred controversy since the investigation began in June 2007.

Charged last July with stirring up civil unrest to encourage military intervention, 86 suspects are already being tried in a court near Istanbul.

This week's charge sheet names the men prosecutors appear to think organised the plot: Sener Eruygur, a former military police chief, and Hursit Tolon, a former military commander. Both men, who are the highest-ranking military officers to be arrested in Turkey's 62-year history of multi-party democracy, say they are innocent.

The pair are both charged with "forming and organising an armed terror group" and "attempting to remove the government".

Mr Eruygur is also charged in connection with the May 2006 murder of a high court judge which triggered the secular backlash against the ruling AK Party that ended in military threats of intervention in April 2007. The extent of both men's opposition to AK Party rule became clear in 2007, when a Turkish magazine published extracts from diaries allegedly written by an admiral detailing their role in two failed coup attempts in 2004. Now retired, the admiral continues to deny he wrote the diary.

Among the suspects charged yesterday were two prominent journalists – Mustafa Balbay, who is the chief journalist in Ankara for Cumhuriyet, a secular newspaper, and Tuncay Ozkan, former owner of the secular KanalTurk television. Several former police officials, politicians and academics were also charged.