Turkey arrests 6 leaders of 1997 coup

April 19, 2012 at 8:00 PM

ANKARA, Turkey, April 19 (UPI) -- Turkish police Thursday arrested six military officers suspecting of playing a major role in a bloodless military coup in 1997, officials said.

By order of the Ankara Specially Authorized Prosecutor's Office, police raided the homes of and detained retired Gen. Erol Ozkasnak, Col. Ahmet Dagci, retired senior Col. Yasar Bulent Aksaray, retired Lt. Col. Gunes Kiral, retired Col. Veli Seyit and retired Col. Osman Bulbul, Today's Zaman reported.

The arrests are part of a probe into the Feb. 28, 1997, coup that led to the fall of the Islamist-leaning coalition government led by Necmettin Erbakan of the now-defunct Welfare Party.

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 retired Gen. Cevik Bir, who police arrested as part of a similar raid last week. 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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