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N Cyprus 'link to Turkish plot'

Cyprus map

A Turkish investigation into an alleged ultra-nationalist coup plot has spread to Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus.

The "prime minister" of the territory - which is recognised only by Turkey - says he wants two former Turkish Cypriot leaders to be investigated.

Ferdi Sabit Soyer said there were "serious allegations" about his predecessor Dervis Eroglu and former "president" Rauf Denktash.

Mr Eroglu dismissed the move as a "dirty political game".

The authorities in northern Cyprus are due to hold general elections on 19 April.

The allegations mentioned by Mr Soyer concern alleged links to a detained Turkish trade union leader, Mustafa Ozbek, who is a suspect in the so-called Ergenekon case, Turkish media report.

'Deep state' claim

Turkish state prosecutors have charged dozens of people over the alleged plot to topple Turkey's Islamist-rooted government.

Silivri prison - scene of Ergenekon trial
The trial is being held under tight security at an Istanbul prison

Eighty-six suspects went on trial last October at the Silivri prison-court in Istanbul, including retired army officers, politicians, academics and journalists.

The 2,455-page indictment holds the Ergenekon group responsible for at least two violent attacks - a bombing of a secularist newspaper in 2006 and an attack on a court the same year in which a judge was killed.

The attacks on these key parts of the secular establishment were supposed to provoke the military into launching a coup in defence of secular interests, it is alleged.

The BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Istanbul says 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.

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

Cyprus has been divided into the Greek Cypriot south and an occupied north since Turkey invaded in 1974, after a coup inspired by the military junta ruling Greece at the time.



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