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Erdogan open to retrial of coup plot officers

Turkish prime minister says he would not oppose retrial of hundreds of military officers convicted on coup plot charges.

Last updated: 06 Jan 2014 10:14
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Erdogan claims the corruption investigation is a plot by internal and foreign enemies. [Getty Images]

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has said he would not oppose the retrial of hundreds of military officers convicted on coup plot charges, a case that underlined civilian dominance over a once all-powerful army.

He said he had a "positive" meeting on Saturday with Metin Feyzioglu, the head of the Turkish bar association, who submitted proposals in favour of the jailed officers.

"Our position on a retrial is a favourable one. There is not a problem for us about retrials as long as the legal basis is established. In terms of regulations, we are ready to do what we can," Erdogan told reporters late on Sunday before leaving on an official visit to Asia.

Turkey's appeals court in October upheld the convictions of top retired officers for leading a plot to overthrow Erdogan's government a decade ago.

But the military last week filed a criminal complaint over the court cases, saying evidence against serving and retired officers had been fabricated.

The complaint came as Erdogan's government is weakened by a wide-ranging corruption investigation which has led to the resignation of three members of his cabinet and highlighted concern about the independence of the judiciary.

In 2012, more than 300 active and retired military officers were sentenced to prison terms of up to 20 years in a trial that ruled a 2003 army exercise, codenamed "Sledgehammer", was an undercover coup plot against the AKP.

Erdogan's backers accuse Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Turkish cleric with strong influence in the police and judiciary and a former ally of the prime minister, of connivance in the corruption investigations. Gulen denies the allegation.

Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AK Party is widely held to have relied on Gulen's influence in breaking the power of the army, which carried out three coups between 1960 and 1980 and forced an Islamist-led government from power in 1997 including by pursuing suspected coup plotters through the courts.

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