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17 Turkish officers held in probe of 1997 military coup.

Turkish: Seventeen serving and former Turkish military officers were held and transferred to an Ankara court Wednesday in a long-running probe into a 1997 bloodless coup.

The detainees were due to testify in court over their alleged involvement in the overthrow of Turkey s first Islamist head of government, Necmettin Erbakan, reported the Anatolia news agency.

On Tuesday, police carried out raids in nine provinces and detained 17 serving and former military officers -- six of them serving generals, media reported.

They are accused of "trying to topple the government, or partially or totally impeding its activities," pro-government Sabah daily reported.

On Tuesday, Turkey s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced uneasiness about the ongoing waves of arrests and called for a swift finalisation of the legal case launched by prosecutors.

"We are seriously disturbed by these arrests. The steps that need to be taken must be taken and (the case) must be finalised," he said.

The accusation targeting military officers is widely seen as part of efforts by the current Islamist-led government to roll back the military s influence in politics.

Erbakan was the political mentor of Erdogan.A parade of tanks outside Ankara and an ultimatum addressed to Erbakan at the time were all it took to overthrow his government without violence.

The army, which sees itself as the guarantor of Turkey s secular principles, overthrew three earlier administrations in 1960, 1971 and 1980.

Turkey is currently holding dozens of officers, some of them retired, on suspicion of plotting to oust the latest Islamist-led government which took over in 2002.

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Date:May 9, 2012
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