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Ex-Turkish chief of staff charged

  |   Feb. 3, 2012 at 3:56 PM
ISTANBUL, Turkey, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- The former head of the Turkish military faces charges of trying to foment a coup against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The indictment against Gen. Ilker Basbug, former chief of the general staff, was forwarded to the Istanbul 13th High Criminal Court, Today's Zaman reported Thursday. It charges Basbug with "seeking to unseat the government of the Republic of Turkey by force."

Tensions have been high between the traditionally secular military and the government since the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party, usually known by its Turkish acronym, AKP, took office. A number of generals have been charged with crimes, but Basbug is the highest-ranking so far.

Basbug denied the charges.

"The person who is accused of these charges is the 26th chief of General Staff of the Turkish Republic. I think it is important to note this for history," he said. "As the chief of General Staff, I was the commander of the Turkish Armed Forces. The [Turkish military] is one of the most respected and strongest armed forces in the world. Accusing somebody who led such an army of establishing and administering a terrorist organization is really tragicomic."

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