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Page last updated at 10:15 GMT, Tuesday, 6 April 2010 11:15 UK

Ex-officers arrested in Turkey coup probe

Turkish military on parade (file picture)
The head of Turkey's army has insisted coups are a thing of the past

More than a dozen retired military officers have been detained in Turkey in the latest stage of an investigation into an alleged 2003 coup plot.

Prosecutors had reportedly meant to detain nearly 90 former officers, until the chief prosecutor stepped in to limit the scale of the operation.

Dozens of officers have already been rounded up over the allegations.

The "sledgehammer" plot supposedly involved staging bombings to undermine the government and justify a coup.

Many of those arrested in February have since been released.

It is one of two major ongoing investigations into alleged coup plots. Scores of people are already on trial in relation to the other - the reported Ergenekon conspiracy - in which military figures and staunch secularists allegedly planned to foment unrest, leading to a coup.

Turkey's military has overthrown or forced the resignation of four governments since 1960 - most recently in 1997 - though it now insists that coups are a thing of the past.

Arrests suspended

Several former generals were among those arrested on Monday. Between 14 and 20 people were held in total, reports said.

But Istanbul's chief prosecutor, Aykut Cengiz Engin, said the two investigators who had issued arrest warrants for nearly 90 people had been removed from their duties.

Mr Engin said "the [arrest] operations have been suspended as the newly assigned prosecutors need some time to study the files".

The two prosecutors had reportedly not sought the required approval before seeking the arrests.



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