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Turkey targets leaders of 1997 coup

April 12, 2012 at 5:43 PM   |   Comments

ANKARA, Turkey, April 12 (UPI) -- Retired Turkish Gen. Cevik Bir, a leader of the bloodless military coup in 1997, was detained Thursday, and warrants were issued for 30 others, officials said.

Police were searching the homes of Bir as well as retired Gens. Abdullah Kılıcarslan and Idris Koralp -- among 31 premises searched in Istanbul, Ankara and Canakkale, Today's Zaman reported.

The Feb. 28, 1997, coup led to the fall of the Islamist-leaning coalition government led by Necmettin Erbakan of the now-defunct Welfare Party.

The 30 detention warrants were issued for retired military officers.

Specially Authorized Prosecutor Mustafa Bilgili is investigating the actions of generals at the time of the coup, including Chief of General Staff Gen. Ismail Hakki Karadayi, National Security Council Secretary-General Gen. Tuncer Kilinc and former Land Forces Cmdr. Gen. Erdal Ceylanoglu.

The investigation began after hundreds of complaints were filed by plaintiffs in Turkey, most of whom say they were victimized by the coup.

Today's Zaman said the investigation is focusing on actions of the West Study Group, headed by Bir. The group, set up within the military, categorized politicians, intellectuals, soldiers and bureaucrats according to their religious and ideological backgrounds.

In the wake of the coup, the military was purged of members with suspected ties to religious groups, restrictions were placed on religious life, including an unofficial ban on the Islamic headscarf, and some newspapers were shut down.

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