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Turkey to Detain 30 Ex-Soldiers for '97 `Postmodern Coup'

Turkish prosecutors are seeking to detain 31 retired military officers in connection with the so-called postmodern coup of 1997 that toppled the fourth civilian government in as many decades.

Police in Ankara, Istanbul, Nigde and Canakkale are raiding the homes of former officers, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported, citing the prosecutor’s office in the capital.

The military toppled a coalition government led by an Islamist party after a Feb. 28, 1997, National Security Council meeting, when the generals said they viewed Necmettin Erbakan’s Welfare Party as a threat to Turkey’s strictly secular republic. Retired General Cevik Bir, the deputy chief of General Staff at the time who called the ouster a “postmodern coup,” has been detained, Anatolia said.

“Turkey must face the events in its recent and past political history that disrupted democracy for certain periods,” Justice Minister Sabullah Ergin said today in televised comments from Ankara. “I hope that in the period that follows our country will gain stability that is grounded, not disrupted, and based on institutionalized democracy. All the efforts are for that.”

The warrants come after Turkish military commanders who seized power in a 1980 coup went on trial April 4, charged with using force to topple the government.

Turkish prosecutors are also pursuing two cases against current and former military officers for alleged plots to overthrow Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. More than 200 officers along with academics and journalists have been jailed in the Ergenekon and Balyoz, or Sledgehammer, investigations that began in 2007.

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