Ex-military supremo behind bars in Turkey

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Ex-military supremo behind bars in Turkey

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The once all-powerful Turkish military is having to re-think its role in the country after a former Chief of Staff was jailed, accused of plotting to bring down the government.

General Ilker Basbug is the most prominent among hundreds of arrests in a government crackdown on the shadowy ultra-nationalist Ergenekon network.

He is accused of directing a terrorist group and preparing a coup d’etat.

Turkey’s president Abdullah Gul said: ‘There is a legal order in Turkey. We have been witnessing a prosecution process in this legal order. I’d like to say at first that nobody can be declared a criminal without court decisions.’

Turkey’s military has seen itself as the defender of the country’s secular constitution and it once wielded unsurpassed influence. The Chief of Staff was one of of the country’s most powerful positions.

But the Islamist background of the prime minister and the president led to suspicions that religion was making advances in the secular state.

Premier Erdogan has always denied having a religious agenda for Turkey.

Some analysts say the fact that prosecutors are now concentrating on senior generals marks a turning point in the democratisation process in Turkey.