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Turkish official says officers could be retried

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey could change laws to allow the re-trial of hundreds of military officers who were convicted of plotting to overthrow Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government, a senior party official was quoted as saying Sunday.

The comments by Mustafa Elitas, a senior legislator in Erdogan's party, were published in the Hurriyet newspaper. "We will, if necessary, make new legal arrangements to stop people's unjust treatment," he said in a reference to the convicted military officers.

Last week, Erdogan's top political adviser, Yalcin Akdogan, suggested those officers had been framed by groups within the judiciary who are now allegedly orchestrating a widespread corruption probe against Erdogan's allies.

Many believe the groups Akdogan was referring to are followers of Pennsylvania-based spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen, a moderate preacher whose Muslim believers command a global empire of business, media and education interests. Gulen has denied any involvement in the investigation.

Erdogan was forced to reshuffle his government this week and dismiss three Cabinet ministers whose sons were detained as part of the corruption investigation, which the government says is a foreign and local smear campaign to topple his government and destabilize Turkey.

The convicted military officers have long claimed that much of the evidence against them was fabricated. Turkey's secular military has staged three military takeovers since the 1960s but has seen its powers curbed by the decade-long rule of Erdogan's Islam-based government. The trial of the military officers helped end its hold on politics.

But Turkish media reports on Saturday said the military chief has requested the government's help for a review of the officers' cases. Some analysts see that as a sign of an uneasy alliance forming between Erdogan's government and the military against the Gulen movement.

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