Turkish Army Said to Probe Former Prime Minister

ANKARA (Reuter)-A Turkish military prosecutor has launched an investigation into allegations that former prime minister Tansu Ciller accepted money from abroad to work against the national interest–Turkish papers said Thursday.

The Hurriyet daily said the prosecutor would look into the possibility that Ciller–who left office last month–had broken both military and civilian laws on safeguarding national security.

Other newspapers carried similar stories.

Hurriyet said the investigation was based on accusations by a far-left politician that Ciller–who became Turkey’s first woman prime minister in 1993–had worked for US intelligence.

"The next stage is for the prosecutor to ask Ciller to testify. If she refuses–a report aimed at lifting her parliamentary immunity will be prepared," the paper said.

In Turkey–the influential army has the power to put civilians on trial on charges relating to military matters. Ciller–a US-educated economist–has denied the charges as well as other corruption-related accusations against her and her businessman husband.

She angered the secularist establishment–led by the army–by taking her pro-Western party into coalition last year with the Islamists of former prime minister Necmettin Erbakan.

Ciller served as foreign minister in that government until it collapsed under pressure from the secularist army last month.

Turkey’s top court Thursday rejected a request from the main opposition Islamist Welfare Party for an extra three months to prepare its defense against a bid to outlaw it.

"The court unanimously rejected the request for another extension," Anatolian news agency quoted Constitutional Court head Yekta Gungor Ozden as saying.

Welfare’s deadline to submit its defense had already been extended by two months to August

The written defense is expected to be judged by the court in closed sessions.

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