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MENAFN - Arab News - 22/02/2014
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(MENAFN -Arab News) ANKARA: Turkey?s parliament on Friday passed a law abolishing special courts that have convicted hundreds of military officers for coup plotting

The conciliatory move toward the military, proposed by the Islamic-rooted ruling party, comes as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is grappling with a high-level corruption scandal that has implicated his entourage and dragged down some of his ministers

The bill, which President Abdullah Gul is expected to sign, would abolish the specially appointed courts that in 2012 convicted more than 300 active and retired military officers in the so-called ?Sledgehammer? trial, and pass their case files to Turkey?s regular criminal courts

The measure could clear the way for convicted military officers to be retried, an option Erdogan said last month he would not oppose

The original trials in the special courts were criticized for the defendants? long detention periods, and the military top brass complained some of the evidence was fabricated

Turkey?s army, which considers itself the self-appointed guardian of the secular regime, has staged three coups since 1960, and forced out an Islamist government in 1997

The bill appears to be an attempt by Erdogan to reach out to the country?s once-mighty generals, after spending his 11 years in power clipping their wings

Erdogan?s government has been ensnared in a corruption scandal he blames on a former ally, US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. The strongman premier has responded by sacking or reassigning thousands of police and prosecutors to cut Gulen?s influence

The scandal has grown into a major crisis for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) ahead of March local elections.


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