A Turkish court formally arrested nine more people on Sunday for ties to an alleged secularist plot to bring down the Islamic-rooted government, and police detained another 33 suspects in the case, state media reported.
Ibrahim Sahin, a former police chief, was among those arrested, according to the Anatolia news agency. Prosecutors say the alleged plot aimed to destabilize Turkey through a series of attacks and trigger a coup in 2009.
All nine were charged with membership in a terrorist organization and ordered jailed pending trial. The court also jailed four colonels and lieutenants on similar charges Saturday. Eight-six other suspects are already on trial in the case. They have been accused of planning an armed uprising and being part of an ultranationalist network called Ergenekon _ which takes its name from a legendary valley in Central Asia.
At the heart of the trial is a clash between the growing clout of Turkey's Islamic class and its traditional secular and military elite. The case has raised concerns about political instability in Turkey, which has seen four governments ousted by the military since 1960.
A prosecutor's indictment says the suspects were involved in a series of high-profile attacks and planned to kill Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Nobel literature laureate Orhan Pamuk, prominent Kurdish politicians and the country's military chief, to cause chaos.
The defendants, who include a top author, a political party leader, journalists, a former university dean and a lawyer, have denied the charges. All were outspoken opponents of Erdogan and say the government instigated the trial to silence its secular critics. The government rejects the allegations.
Police on Sunday also detained 33 more suspects in the second nationwide security sweep in five days, Anatolia said. Prosecutors have released many of the approximately 40 previous suspects seized last week, including Ret. Gen. Tuncer Kilinc, who once headed Turkey's National Security Council, pending outcome of the trial. Some of the suspects were still being interrogated. Police on Friday discovered hand grenades, plastic explosives, shoulder-fired rockets and ammunition buried close to a road near Ankara, reportedly based on maps seized during a raid. On Sunday, they displayed the arms to the press, as well as more grenades and rifles seized from the home of a military officer near Istanbul.