Ex-army chief detained over ‘97 ‘coup’

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iol pic wld turkey -politics AFP A mourner wears a scarf with a picture of former Turkish Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan as tens of thousands of people gather on March 1, 2011 in Istanbul for the funeral of the country's first Islamist prime minister.

Istanbul - Turkey's former armed forces chief was detained on Thursday in an investigation into the military's role in pushing the country's first Islamist-led government out of power in 1997, local media reported.

Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, who pioneered Islamist politics in Turkey, resigned in June 1997, months after the military-dominated National Security Council warned him over policies it perceived as undermining the secular constitution.

The episode was dubbed Turkey's “post-modern coup” as the generals used pressure behind the scenes to force Erbakan from power rather than the direct intervention employed in three outright coups in 1960, 1971 and 1980.

On Thursday state prosecutors investigating the case ordered the arrest of Ismail Hakki Karadayi, chief of general staff from 1994 to 1998, Turkish television stations said - the latest humiliation for the once all-powerful military.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP), which was partly founded by members of Erbakan's Welfare Party after it was outlawed, has sharply curbed the influence of the military since coming to power in 2002.

It has launched investigations into coup plots by a military elite which long saw itself as guardian of the secular ideals of Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern Turkish secular republic.

More than 300 military officers were sentenced to jail in September for plotting to overthrow Erdogan almost a decade ago, while nearly 300 other people - including politicians, academics, journalists and retired army officers - are on trial accused of orchestrating political violence. - Reuters

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