6 Jan 2012

Turkey's ex-army chief arrested

9:27 pm on 6 January 2012

The former head of the Turkish armed forces has been remanded in custody to face charges over an alleged plot to overthrow the government.

Gen Ilker Basbug, who retired in 2010, is the highest-ranking officer to be caught up in a widening probe into the so-called Ergenekon network.

Prosecutors say in 2003 the hardline nationalist group tried to bring down Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government.

Gen Basbug rejects the allegations. Some 400 suspects are already on trial.

"We can say it is really tragicomic to accuse somebody who commands such an army of forming and directing a terrorist group," Turkey's NTV network quoted Gen Basbug as telling prosecutors.

The Ergenekon trial is one of several involving accusations of anti-government plots by the military and secular establishment.

Some military officers already charged in the case have said they acted in a chain of command.

Turkey's military has long seen itself as the guarantor of the country's secular constitution and staged three coups between 1960 and 1980.