Istanbul, Reuters—Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said he would not oppose the retrial of hundreds of military officers convicted on coup plot charges.
Turkey’s appeals court in October upheld the convictions of retired senior officers for leading a plot to overthrow Erdoğan’s government a decade ago, a case that underlined civilian dominance over a once all-powerful army.
The military last week filed a criminal complaint over the court cases, saying evidence against serving and retired officers had been fabricated.
“There is not a problem for us about retrials as long as the legal basis is established. In terms of regulations, we are ready to do what we can,” Erdoğan told reporters late on Sunday before leaving on an official visit to Asia.
He said he had had a “positive” meeting on Saturday with the head of the Turkish bar association during which the cases were discussed. He added that Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ was working on the issue.
The military complaint came as Erdoğan’s government was weakened by a wide-ranging corruption investigation which led to the resignation of three members of his cabinet and highlighted concern about the independence of the judiciary.
Erdoğan’s backers accuse Fethullah Gülen, a US-based Turkish cleric with strong influence in the police and judiciary, and a former ally of the prime minister, of connivance in the corruption investigations. Gülen denies the allegation.
Erdoğan’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) is widely believed to have relied on Gülen’s influence in breaking the power of the army—which carried out three coups between 1960 and 1980 and forced an Islamist-led government from power in 1997—by pursuing suspected coup plotters through the courts.