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Former force commanders detained in largest Ergenekon wave

23. February 2010. | 09:05

Source: Zaman

Eleven retired generals and several retired colonels were detained yesterday as part of the investigation into the Sledgehammer and Cage alleged coup plots, devised by military members of Ergenekon, a clandestine gang charged with plotting to overthrow the government.

Eleven retired generals and several retired colonels were detained yesterday as part of the investigation into the Sledgehammer and Cage alleged coup plots, devised by military members of Ergenekon, a clandestine gang charged with plotting to overthrow the government.

At least 50 people were detained, a majority of them retired and active duty military officers.

Retired Air Forces Commander Gen. İbrahim Fırtına, who was interrogated earlier in January by prosecutors conducting the investigation into Ergenekon, was detained yesterday in addition to former Naval Forces Adm. Özden Örnek, the writer of detailed journals kept between 2000-2004 on some of the force commanders' coup plans, former 1st Army Commander Ergin Saygun, Gen. Engin Alan and several retired colonels.

Fırtına was detained in Ankara, where the police raided 14 locations.

In addition to the generals listed above, retired generals Feyyaz Öğütçü, Ayhan Poyraz, Ayhan Taş, Mustafa Çalış, Yavuz Yalçın, Özer Karabulut and Ali Deniz Kutluk and retired colonels Ümit Öcan, Emin Küçükkılıç, Kubilay Aktaş, Ahmet Metin Dikici and Ali Karababa were also taken into custody.

Retired generals Deniz Kutluk and Yusuf Ziya Toker were also detained and taken to the İstanbul Prosecutor's Office. There were also searches in the homes of retired 1st Army Commander retired Gen. Çetin Doğan and retired Gen. Süha Tanyeli, the former head of the General Staff's Strategic Research and Study Center (SAREM), a foundation affiliated with the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). Doğan was detained later in the afternoon.

Fourteen officers, seven retired and seven on active duty, were detained in Ankara. Yesterday's operation was carried out under the order of the İstanbul chief prosecutor, the Ankara Governor's Office said. The detainees were flown to İstanbul later yesterday.

In the face of the developments, Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ delayed a planned visit to Egypt yesterday morning. An announcement from the General Staff said Başbuğ would instead be flying to Egypt tonight.

There was also a search of the Turkish Armed Forces Mehmetçik Foundation's İstanbul representative office, in İstanbul's Caddebostan neighborhood. Police teams and prosecutors arrived at the Mehmetçik Foundation at 8 a.m. The search continued throughout the day. The police reportedly made copies of files found on the foundation's computers.

At the same time, in İzmir police launched another operation to apprehend suspects believed to be part of the Cage operation plan, yet another alleged military plot to create chaos in the country. Several suspects were detained, including a former navy colonel, in the operation conducted by the İzmir Police Department; however, no exact number was provided by officials.

Gen. Alan is best remembered for his role in an operation in Kenya in 1999, in which terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan was apprehended by Turkish Special Forces.

The Cage plan was exposed during a police raid on the office of retired Maj. Levent Bektaş as part of a probe launched after the discovery of a large arms cache in İstanbul's Poyrazköy district in April within the framework of the investigation into Ergenekon. The Cage Operation Action Plan sought to intimidate Turkey's non-Muslims and assassinate prominent non-Muslim figures to put domestic and international pressure on the Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which would in turn lead to diminishing public support for the party.

The Sledgehammer plan, revealed in January by a Turkish newspaper, was more than simply an outline of a plan to kill or injure various bureaucrats, journalists and the government. It included a plot to bomb one of İstanbul's largest mosques during Friday prayer and a subplot named Oraj (Thunderstorm) that called for the deliberate downing of a Turkish jet to trigger problems with Greece, which the conspirators hoped would give the army the upper hand in politics as the public would feel threatened by a foreign enemy.

Police said the operation yesterday was launched when the National Police Department's criminal investigations department examined and verified the authenticity of documents regarding the Sledgehammer and Cage plans. The original documents were handed to the Ergenekon prosecutors by the Taraf daily, which exposed both plans.

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