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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Turkish authorities charge 33 for alleged coup plot
Bhargav Katikaneni at 10:37 AM ET

[JURIST] The Turkish government indicted 33 people Friday on charges of attempting to overthrow the government and establish military rule. The accused, some of whom include high-ranking military officials [AFP report], are alleged to have plotted with a secret group called Ergenekon [BBC Backgrounder; JURIST news archive] to assassinate prominent members of Turkey's Christian and Jewish minority groups, blame Islamic terrorists for the deaths, and seize power in the process. The plot was never carried out. A trial date is set for June 15.

Earlier this week, Turkish police detained [JURIST report] 20 people in connection with the alleged Ergenekon plot. Turkish prosecutors recently charged [JURIST report] an army general and a state prosecutor with belonging to Ergenekon and plotting to overthrow Turkey's ruling Justice Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish]. In February, more than 40 military officers were arrested and charged with a separate plot [JURIST report], the so-called Sledgehammer plot [JURIST report], to stage a coup by provoking a military confrontation with Greece and take advantage of the ensuing chaos. The Ergenekon investigation has been criticized as an attempt by the AKP to silence the opposition and impose [JURIST report] islamic principles on secular Turkey. Trials against the Ergenekon group started [JURIST report] two years ago.

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