ANKARA, Turkey — A court ordered the arrest yesterday of 102 people, including at least three retired military commanders, as they await trial on charges of conspiring in 2003 to overthrow the Islamic-rooted government in a coup.
The court set the trial date as Dec. 16. It had indicted 196 people on Monday, accusing them of planning to create chaos and pave the way for a military takeover.
Police are now expected to round up 102 of those people, including retired General Dogan Cetin, former commander of Turkey’s first army, former naval force commander Ozden Ornek, and former air force commander Ibrahim Firtina. The rest of those indicted will remain free.
The accused face up to 20 years in prison if convicted of attempting to bring down the government and being members of an illegal organization.
Most were detained in February — but subsequently released — after a newspaper, Taraf, published what it said were leaked copies of documents detailing their plans. The newspaper said the officers and others plotted to blow up mosques in the hopes of stirring chaos that could trigger a military takeover.
The military, which has overthrown four governments since 1960, has denied such a plot.
More than 400 people, including pro-secular academics, journalists, politicians, and soldiers, are already on trial on separate charges of plotting to bring down the government. That group is suspected in plots to kill Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Critics allege the cases are built on flimsy evidence and illegal wiretaps. They say the government is attempting to silence opponents who accuse Erdogan of trying to undermine Turkey’s secular constitution.