Turkish court annuls arrest warrants over 'coup plot'

Image caption,
Former navy commander Adm Ozden Ornek was among those indicted

A Turkish court has annulled arrest warrants against 102 military officers charged over an alleged 2003 coup plot.

The officers - who include 25 generals and admirals - were indicted in July.

All were accused of involvement in plotting a military takeover, in an operation codenamed sledgehammer.

The annulment comes days after the military agreed not to promote some of the accused officers, after a standoff with the Turkish government dominated by the Islamist-rooted AK Party.

In all, 196 people were charged in July over the alleged plot. Some had been arrested in February and then released.

Among the 102 earmarked for arrest were Gen Dogan Cetin, former commander of Turkey's First Army, former navy chief Adm Ozden Ornek and former air force commander Gen Halil Ibrahim Flirtina.

The BBC's David O'Byrne in Istanbul says the army's agreement not to promote some of the alleged plotters means arguments over who will fill vacant top posts are likely to continue for some time.

The indictment says the alleged conspiracy was drawn up in 2003 at the Istanbul base of the First Army, shortly after the governing AK Party came to power.

The alleged plot reportedly involved plans to bomb mosques and provoke tensions with Greece, in order to spark political chaos and justify a military takeover.

The military say it was only a contingency plan based on scenarios of political unrest.

The case is the latest in a series involving alleged plots by Turkey's military and secular establishment against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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