Prosecutors in Turkey have freed three senior retired Turkish military officers. The move appeared to be aimed at diffusing tensions between the country’s Islamist-rooted government and the secular military.
50 senior officers were detained on Monday, accused of conspiring to topple Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government in 2003.
President Abdullah Gul has met with Erdogan and military chief Ilker Basbug and assured Turks the country’s problems would be resolved within the framework of the constitution.
Two of the officers released on Thursday are top echelon former force commanders.
Ferhat Kentel, a sociologist at Istanbul’s Sehir University, commented on the current situation in the country: “The army is the principal defender of secularism and it has reacted strongly to the situation. But the different sectors of the population have been forming their own opinions. In Turkey the mentality of the people has changed. Nothing is like it used to be. There is a certain flexibility and a comprehension by people of the changes brought in by the current government.”
Some 20 senior military officers have already been charged and remanded in custody in connection with the plot, codenamed “Sledgehammer.”
The military has toppled four governments in the last 50 years.