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Sunday, April 20, 2014  

Turkey targets scribes as coup chief surrenders
ISTANBUL The alleged mastermind of a 2003 plot to topple Turkey’s government surrendered on Monday after an arrest warrant as police targeted opposition journalists as part of a separate coup probe, reports said.

Retired general Cetin Dogan turned himself in after a court ruled late on Friday that 163 of 196 acting and retired soldiers, on trial since December for allegedly having plotted to topple the government, should be kept in jail while the trial proceeds, Anatolia news agency reported.

The ruling sparked harsh criticism from the defence over the case, already marred by serious doubts over the authenticity of key documents incriminating the suspects.

Dogan, who rejects the essential evidence against him as fabrication, raised the prospect of lawyers quitting the case in protest.

“The only thing we can do now is to submit applications to the court (to annul the arrest ruling)... then, depending on the reply, we will ask our lawyers to walk out... and we will not defend ourselves at the (next) hearing on March 14,” he said in televised remarks shortly before his surrender.

The 133 suspects who attended late on Friday’s hearing — among them the former chiefs of Turkey’s air force and navy — were immediately sent to jail after the court ordered their arrest.

The remaining has began to turn themselves in, with lawyers simultaneously filing applications appealing the ruling, Anatolia reported.

The defendants risk 15 to 20 years in jail.

The prosecution says the plot — codenamed “Operation Sledgehammer” — was drawn up and discussed at the First Army base in Istanbul shortly after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in November 2002 amid fears it would undermine Turkey’s secular system.

In a related development on Monday, police searched the Istanbul office of a popular opposition website, odatv.com, as part of a separate probe into Ergenekon, a purported secularist network that allegedly plotted to foment political unrest and pave the way for a military coup, Anatolia said.

A prosecutor has issued a detention order for four journalists — the website’s founder Soner Yalcin, Ayhan Bozkurt, Baris Terkoglu and Baris Pehlivan, it said.

The homes of the journalists were also searched.

Agencies
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