Turkey court orders release of 230 military 'plotters'

June 19, 2014 - 5:56:26 pm

ANKARA: Magistrates in Istanbul on Thursday ordered the release of 230 military officers sentenced for plotting to overthrow the government a day after Turkey's top court said the original trial was flawed.

The Istanbul court ruled that the sentences of between 13 and 20 years should be suspended until the officers can face a retrial requested by the prosecution, local media reported.

On Wednesday, a higher court ruled that the officers' rights had been violated during their trial in 2012 when they were convicted of seeking to bring down the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The judgement by the Constitutional Court said there were reasons to doubt the evidence and witness statements used in the highly publicised "Sledgehammer" trial.

A total of 326 officers, including a number of high-ranking retired generals, were accused of plotting to foment unrest by launching attacks on mosques and sending planes to provoke a conflict with Greece in order to create the pretext for a coup.

Rights groups have criticised the 2012 trial, questioning the impartiality of the magistrates and arguing it was an attempt by the government to undermine the military.

Local media reported the prisoners will be released on Thursday evening. (AFP)