Turkish 'Sledgehammer' coup plot trial collapses

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Gen Cetin Dogan (file pic)Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The plot allegations centred around Gen Cetin Dogan, former First Army commander in Turkey

A Turkish court has cleared 236 military suspects accused in a retrial of plotting to remove former Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2003.

The men were among more than 300 officers convicted in 2012 of taking part in the "Sledgehammer" conspiracy.

They were freed last year when Turkey's highest court said the trial had been flawed.

The prosecutor told their retrial that key computer files in the trial were inadmissible as evidence.

Some of the evidence had been fabricated, according to expert reports.

Dress rehearsal

The plot allegations arose from a war simulation seminar in 2003 involving top military men, including First Army commander Gen Cetin Dogan.

Gen Dogan and two other generals, Ozden Ornek and Ibrahim Firtina, were jailed for 20 years, accused of staging a dress rehearsal for a coup that involved bombing mosques and trying to trigger a war with Greece to justify a military takeover.

Gen Dogan insisted the seminar had been aimed at preventing a hypothetical crisis involving political unrest.

The army has a long history of intervening in politics, with three military coups between 1960 and 1980, and a campaign in 1997 that forced the resignation of Turkey's first Islamist-led government.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The Turkish president has tried to rebuild relations with the military after a series of damaging trials

Mr Erdogan came to power in 2002 at the head of an Islamist-rooted government and became president last August.

The 2012 convictions were eventually overturned last June when Turkey's Constitutional Court ruled that the original trial had been flawed.

Prosecutor Ramazan Oksuz called for their acquittal at the high criminal court in Istanbul on Tuesday, arguing that the "digital data" was inadmissible as evidence and could not be linked to the suspects.