Turkish court frees ex-general held in coup probe | world | Hindustan Times
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Turkish court frees ex-general held in coup probe

world Updated: Feb 08, 2009 09:26 IST
Turkish court frees ex-general held in coup probe

A Turkish court has ordered a retired Turkish general accused of plotting to overthrow the AK Party government to be released from custody because of lack of evidence, Turkish television said today.

Former First Army Commander Hursit Tolon was arrested with another former senior general, a prominent businessman and several other people in July.

They were held as part of an investigation that has caused tension between the secularist establishment, including the army, and the Islamist-leaning AK Party government.

Turkish television stations said a court ordered the release of Tolon, who had been moved from an Istanbul prison to a military hospital for health reasons, because of lack of evidence against him.

The former general was suspected of being a member of a shadowy, ultra-nationalist secularist group known as Ergenekon, which is under investigation.

The arrest shocked the country since no senior generals had been arrested previously on politically-related charges. Some active officers and policemen were among dozens of people detained as part of the Ergenekon investigation since then.

Opponents of the government question the coup allegations, saying the government is using the investigation to silence critics.

Turkey, predominantly Muslim but officially secular and seeking to join the European Union, has had four military coups against elected governments in the past 50 years.

The military, which has repeatedly criticised the government and considers itself the guardian of Turkey's secular system, has denied links to the Ergenekon group.

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