Page last updated at 10:52 GMT, Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Dozens charged over Turkey 'plot'

Policeman and Turkish flag
Prosecutors say the plotters operate inside the "deep state"

State prosecutors in Turkey have charged a further 56 people over an alleged ultra-nationalist plot to topple the Islamist-rooted government.

The names of those charged have not been released, but local media say they include two former army generals.

Another 86 people are already on trial accused of involvement in the plot, allegedly meant to stoke unrest and provoke the army into launching a coup.

Critics say the ruling AK Party is simply targeting its secular opponents.

Army 'touched'

Prosecutors filed a second indictment on Tuesday - 1,909 pages in length.

It charges 12 of the 56 with being leaders of the alleged plot, known as Ergenekon.

If reports of two generals being charged are correct, they would be the first ever tried on such a charge in a civilian court, says the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Istanbul.

The army has until recently been regarded as "untouchable", the ultimate guarantor of the secular state.

The court has two weeks to approve the prosecutor's indictment. The new defendants would then join the mass trial that has already been under way for six months inside a high security prison.

Many Turks have talked darkly of a "deep state" - groups they suspect of links to the security forces since the 1950s, formed to carry out illegal activities, to "protect" the republic, our correspondent says.

She says that case was widely welcomed at first as a chance to expose and eradicate those illicit gangs.

But as the arrests have spread, the ruling AK Party, which has its roots in political Islam, has increasingly been accused of hijacking the case to silence its secular critics.

The party was the subject of a failed attempt to close it down last year, over claims that it was undermining the strict secular basis of the Turkish state.

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