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Former Turkish generals accused of plot

  • Story Highlights
  • Dozens of people have been arrested in connection with the alleged coup plot
  • They include businessmen and prominent journalists
  • Critics call investigation a political witch hung
  • Prosecutors seek maximum life sentences in solitary confinement for Eruygur, Tolon
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ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- Two retired Turkish generals are accused of masterminding a plot to overthrow the government, according to an indictment officially released Wednesday that charged more than 50 others as their accomplices.

The charges against Sener Eruygur and Hursit Tolon stem from a massive investigation into an alleged gang, known as Ergenekon. Both former officers were arrested last year and were released from jail in recent months because of health concerns.

Prosecutors are asking for maximum life sentences in solitary confinement for Eruygur and Tolon, according to court documents.

In prosecutors' first voluminous indictment, they charged the suspects with plotting to attack a NATO base in Turkey as one of a series of "bloody attacks aiming at creating serious crisis, chaos, anarchy, terrorism and instability."

It accuses alleged members of Ergenekon of plotting to divide the Islamic-rooted ruling party, AKP, and having ties to the PKK -- the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which is considered a terror group by the United States and several other Western nations -- and other groups.

The indictment is the second to be released by prosecutors since the investigation was launched.

The investigation began in June 2007 when police discovered a stash of grenades and bomb-making materials in an Istanbul ghetto. Since then, dozens of people, including the former generals, businessmen and prominent journalists, have been arrested in connection with the alleged coup plot.

The investigation has polarized Turkish society, which has seen the military overthrow four governments in the past 50 years.

Critics call the investigation a political witch hunt. They accuse Turkey's observant Muslim prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of targeting staunch secularists.

Wednesday's 1,909-page indictment -- leaked to Turkish media two weeks ago -- also charges 56 suspects, including Ferda Paksut, the wife of the vice chairman of the Constitutional Court; Sinana Aygun, a businessman; Adil Serdar Sacan, a former police chief; and Tuncay Ozkan, a journalist and politician.

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