- Title: TURKEY: Retired Turkish military commanders appear in court over coup allegations
- Date: 26th February 2010
- Summary: ISTANBUL, TURKEY (FEBRUARY 25, 2010) (REUTERS) VARIOUS EXTERIORS OF ISTANBUL COURTHOUSE MEDIA SECURITY VAN DRIVING IN WITH RETIRED COMMANDERS ON BOARD FORMER AIR COMMANDER IBRAHIM FIRTINA AND NAVAL FORCE COMMANDER OZDEN ORNEK ENTERING COURTHOUSE RETIRED DEPUTY CHIEF OF GENERAL STAFF, ERGIN SAYGUN ENTERING COURTHOUSE SECURITY
- Embargoed: 13th March 2010 12:00
- Location: Turkey
- Country: Turkey
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,Defence / Military
- Reuters ID: LVA2252XKVO1FD5IE18SKM94AO26
- Story Text: Retired air force commander Ibrahim Firtina, former navy force commander Ozden Ornek and former deputy chief of general staff Ergin Saygun appeared in court in Istanbul on Thursday (February 25) over coup allegations.
Tension between the ruling AK Party, which has roots in political Islam, and the secular armed forces risks rising yet further during the day when prosecutors question the former commanders, and may charge them.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul are due to meet armed forces chief General Ilker Basbug at 11 am (0900 GMT) but room for compromise to prevent the crisis from spinning out of control is limited.
Twelve officers, some of them admirals, have already been charged with plotting in 2003 to overthrow the government which hardline secularists believe harbours a hidden Islamist agenda.
Commanders of the military, whose role as guardian of Turkey's secular system has been eroded by European Union-backed reforms, have already warned of a "serious situation" after an emergency meeting to discuss the investigation.
The former air force and navy chiefs being questioned on Thursday are merely the most high profile among 50 detained officers.
The growing crisis has already taken its toll on Turkey's financial markets. Turkish stocks closed down 3.4 percent and the lira hit a seven-month low on Wednesday (February 24).
The AK Party, first elected in 2002 in a landslide victory over established parties blighted by corruption and accusations of misrule, is also embroiled in a dispute with the judiciary -- another pillar of the orthodox establishment.
The military has ousted four governments since 1960, but has said the days of coups are now over.
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