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Coup plot accused appear in Istanbul court

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Coup plot accused appear in Istanbul court
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Several high-ranking air force and naval officers have appeared before an Istanbul court accused of plotting a military coup in Turkey in 2003.

They were among 49 men arrested in a nationwide swoop that has highlighted growing tensions between the armed forces and the Islamist-rooted government.

General Ergin Saygun is a former deputy chief of the General Staff. He was questioned about his involvement in a conspiracy to trigger a coup, alongside former air force commander Ibrahim Fertina and former naval commander Ozden Ornek.

None of the accused men offered any comment to the waiting media as they were escorted to and from the courtroom.

Turkey’s secular military has deposed four governments since 1960.

This time senior officers stand accused of plotting to provoke a political crisis by arranging for a Turkish air force jet to be shot down by a Greek fighter plane, thus enabling the army to take over.

Other senior military officers have been linked to a separate plot to overthrow the government by a far-right group known as “Ergenekon”. That trial is ongoing.