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Turkey Blocks Ex-General Bid for Top-Court Trial, Milliyet Says

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Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Turkey rejected an appeal by retired Chief of General Staff Ilker Basbug to be tried by the Supreme Court in connection with an investigation of alleged coup plots against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Milliyet reported.

A committee of judges and prosecutors in Ankara ruled that the highest ranking officer implicated in the Ergenekon case can’t be tried by Turkey’s top court because the charges against him aren’t related to his duty as the former head of the armed forces, according to the Istanbul-based newspaper. Prosecutors imprisoned Basbug in January for establishing and leading an armed terrorist organization seeking to overthrow the government, Milliyet said.

The decision is procedural and doesn’t mean that Basbug can’t be tried by the Supreme Court, Milliyet reported, citing Ilkay Sezer, the retired general’s lawyer. Sezer, who argued Jan. 20 that the constitution mandates a trial at the top court, said Basbug will object to the ruling at his hearing, according to Milliyet. The former military chief denies the charges, which he described as “tragi-comic.”

More than 250 military officers are in jail as part of the Ergenekon and Balyoz, or Sledgehammer, cases that also imprisoned scores of journalists, politicians and academics for alleged coup plots. The first wave of arrests started July 2007.

To contact the reporter on this story: Emre Peker in Ankara at epeker2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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