Report: Top Turkish general jailed on coup plot charges

By REUTERS
May 30, 2011 20:44

ISTANBUL - A top Turkish general was jailed on Monday pending trial over an alleged 2003 plot to unseat Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government, a move that could fuel tensions two weeks before a parliamentary election.

General Bilgin Balanli, commander of Turkey's military academies, is the highest-ranking serving officer among nearly 200 serving and retired officers charged with involvement in the alleged conspiracy, dubbed "Operation Sledgehammer".

The case has exacerbated strains between Turkey's secularist military and a ruling party with roots in banned Islamist movements as campaigning heats up for the June 12 election.

The Istanbul court ordered General Balanli be sent to jail pending trial on the recommendation of a prosecutor who questioned him for three hours on Monday, broadcasters reported. Most of the defendants are held in jail near Istanbul.


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