Turkey's supreme court of appeals has overturned the convictions of 275 people, including a former military chief, who allegedly plotted to overthrow the country's Islamist-leaning government. The decision opens the way for a re-trial and possible acquittal.

The high court on Thursday cited several flaws in the trial of ex-military chief Ilker Basbug, other officers as well as lawyers, academics and journalists. They were accused of membership in a organization dubbed Ergenekon which allegedly plotted in 2003-2004 to topple Recep Tayyip Erdogan, then prime minister and now the nation's president.

The lengthy trial contributed to the gradual erosion of the powers of the army, which long viewed itself as the guarantor of secularism.

The appeals court said the lower court had, among other flaws, failed to prove Ergenekon's existence.