Turkey questions military figures


ANKARA – Turkish police hauled in a top retired general along with several fellow officers for questioning yesterday over their role in the overthrow of Turkey’s first Islamist government in 1997, the latest affront to the once-supreme military.

Prime minister Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), which itself has Islamist roots, has made curbing the military’s political influence one of its main missions, as state prosecutors have pursued officers suspected of conspiracy.

The arrests were the latest humiliation for generals who, for decades, had considered it their right to interfere in political affairs and who had toppled four governments between 1960 and 1997.

Among those detained yesterday was Maj Gen Erol Ozkasnak who, as secretary general for the chief of staff, had been third in command at general staff headquarters when the military forced prime minister Necmettin Erbakan to quit.

Television footage showed police standing guard outside Maj Gen Ozkasnak’s seaside mansion in Bodrum, one of Turkey’s most desirable Mediterranean resorts, while more police searched inside.

A picture on the website of state-run Anatolian news agency showed a silver-haired Maj Hen Ozkasnak wearing sunglasses and being led from his home, apparently followed by a plain-clothes police officer. Before his arrest, Maj Gen Ozkasnak said: “Please don’t disturb me, I am going to be disturbed anyway.” – (Reuters)