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Europe

Court to try 56 suspects for planning coup

Video by Catherine VIETTE

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2009-07-21

The trial has begun against 56 people, including prominent secular journalists, writers, academics and two four-star generals, for allegedly planning a thwarted coup against Turkey's ruling Islamist-rooted AKP party.

AFP - Prosecutors said Monday they had drawn up a charge sheet against another 52 people over an alleged plot to topple Turkey's Islamist-rooted government, Anatolia news agency reported.
   
The charges also listed a large number of weapons discovered as part of the probe, they added. If an Istanbul court approved the charge sheet in 15 days, the suspects could go to trial.
   
Prosecutors have already charged 142 people as part of the long-running and much-criticised probe into a nationalist-secularist network, Ergenekon, which allegedly plotted to oust the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The AKP's opponents accuse it of undermining Turkey's secular system.
   
The first group of 86 suspects has been on trial since October, while a second group of 56 -- including two retired generals accused of masterminding and leading the plot -- went on trial earlier Monday.
   
This new, 1,454-page indictment includes charges of attempts to topple the government and disrupt parliament; membership in an armed terrorist group;  possession of weapons and stealing state secrets, the prosecutors said.
   
The identities of suspects were not disclosed on grounds the investigation remains secret until the charge sheet is approved by the court, but prosecutors did say that 37 of whom are already in jail.
   
Prominent academics and army officers are among the suspects who have been detained as part of the investigation, awaiting charges.
   
The charge sheet also presented a long list of weapons discovered in the course of the investigation, which began in June 2007.
   
The list featured more than 200 guns and rifles, tens of thousands of bullets, 420 hand grenades, three homemade bombs, dynamite, about three kilogrammes (6.6 pounds) of explosives and other munition.
   
Most of the weapons are believed to have been discovered during searches at the homes of army officers and in several digs the police has carried out in suburban areas in Ankara and Istanbul.
   
The Ergenekon network has been accused of planning to plunge Turkey into political chaos, using the assassinations of prominent people to discredit the AKP, the moderate offshoot of a now banned Islamist movement, and pave the way for a military coup.
   
Initially hailed as a success, the probe's credibility has been increasingly questioned after the police began targeting secularist academics, writers and journalists.
   
Critics have accused the prosecutors of being government cronies, deliberately casting their nets too wide to bully and silence AKP opponents.

Date created : 2009-07-20

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