Turkish police arrest 40 in coup investigation


Turkish police detained around 40 people including three retired generals today, media said, in the latest stage of a probe into an alleged plot to topple EU aspirant Turkey's Islamist-rooted AK Party government.

Eighty-six people, including retired army officers, politicians and lawyers, are on trial for allegedly being part of a right-wing group in a case that has shattered taboos by opening the powerful military to judicial investigation.

The Anatolian state news agency said the police operation was launched in six provinces, including Ankara and Istanbul, after an Istanbul court ordered the detentions as well as searches of the suspects' homes and workplaces.

The retired generals were Kemal Yavuz, Erdal Senel and Tuncer Kilinc, a former chairman of the National Security Council. Also detained was Kemal Guruz, a former chairman of the High Board of Education, which oversees universities. A former police chief was also held.

Police in Ankara and Istanbul declined to comment.

The defendants in the coup plot case, which has added to political uncertainty, are accused of planning assassinations and bombings to sow chaos and force the military to step in. The military, which has unseated four elected governments in the last 50 years, denies any link to the group, known as Ergenekon.

Last month, Turkey's top appeals court ordered that a trial over the 2006 killing of a top judge in Ankara be merged with the Ergenekon trial, for which hearings are being held daily and which is expected to take months to complete.

Analysts say the court case reflects a power struggle between the AK Party, which has its roots in political Islam, and the secularist establishment.

Government opponents see the coup plot case as revenge for court moves last year to outlaw the ruling AK Party.

The party has denied any link.