ISTANBUL - Retired Turkish military commanders expressed fury that a former top Kurdish rebel was allowed to testify against them in a coup trial, citing it as proof the proceedings were meant only to intimidate and undermine the armed forces.

Semdin Sakik, known as "Fingerless Zeki" when number two in the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), waived his anonymity this week at the 'Ergenekon' conspiracy trial at which hundreds, including military, academics, businessmen and journalists, are accused of plotting to overthrow the Islamist-rooted government.

Opponents of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan say the trial of the alleged nationalist Ergenekon network and another plot for which hundreds of army officers were convicted in September are designed to silence the secularist opposition.

The appearance of Sakik, known as "Fingerless Zeki" since losing a thumb while firing a rocket, was a disturbing revelation for military leaders, who have fought for 28 years against the PKK - designated a terrorist group by Turkey, the United States and European Union.

The conflict has killed more than 40,000 people.

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