Turkey's opposition leaders slam detention of military commanders

11:15, February 24, 2010      

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Leaders of Turkey's opposition parties on Tuesday hit out at recent detention of several retired and active military commanders in a probe into an alleged coup plot against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The move showed "Turkey is drifting in a pretty dangerous direction," Deniz Baykal, leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP), was quoted of telling the CHP parliamentary group meeting.

Police detained nearly 50 high-level retired and active military personnel on Monday as part of an ongoing investigation into the "Sledgehammer Plan", an alleged military plot to stir chaos and overthrow the government in 2003, which was disclosed by the Turkish newspaper Taraf this January.

Devlet Bahceli, leader of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), said at a parliamentary group meeting the recent developments were likely to lead to a "regime crisis", Hurriyet reported on its website.

Monday's police raids followed a row over the detention of a chief public prosecutor last week and intensified suspicions of tensions between the Islamist-rooted AKP and the military, which has viewed itself as a guardian of secular values and has staged four coups since 1960.

Chief Public Prosecutor Ilhan Cihaner of the eastern Erzincan Province was arrested by a court last week for alleged ties with the Ergenekon, a clandestine criminal network accused of plotting against the government. Turkey's Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors then stripped the powers of the special prosecutor who had ordered Cihaner's arrest.

Baykal said it was the first time that some secularists within the judiciary confronted other judiciary members backed by the ruling government. He accused political forces of exploiting the judiciary for their own purposes.

Bahceli urged the ruling and opposition parties as well as universities, media and nongovernmental organizations to prevent groundless debates until tensions diminish.

Source: Xinhua
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