The general and Turkish president Kenan Evren was sentenced yesterday to life imprisonment as leader of the military coup of 1980. Evren, 96, was head of the military rule after the uprising and, after a controversial referendum which approved a new constitution, president of Turkey from November 1982 until 1989.
The coup of 1980, the most violent and bloody of the four suffered in Turkey in the second half of the twentieth century ushered in a regime which abolished civil liberties, tortured thousands of opponents and sentenced to death hundreds of them, At least 50 of those sentenced were executed. Half a million people were arrested and about 230,000 tried for political reasons. Hundreds of detainees died in prison and there was a large number of people missing after being arrested.
The court sentenced Evren issued judgment against Tahsin Sahinkaya, 89, then commander of the Air Force and also a survivor of the military rule that governed Turkey after the coup. The statement requires that both military coup should lose their rank, which would make them privates, according to local press.
The spokesman for the ruling Party for Justice and Development (AKP), Huseyin Celik, said in his Twitter account after the ruling: “Justice has revived in Turkey.”
Those convicted coup leaders, they will appeal the ruling to the Constitutional Court, argued that their uprising was necessary to end the instability and violence during the seventies in Turkey in clashes between groups of different political signs. “Should we feed them in prison for years instead of hanged? “, Then President Evren asked in 1984, in a speech yesterday citing Reuters.
The end of the state of anarchy was well received by the public, although there were also critical to the Army for allowing, or even encouraging, political violence to justify his coup after intervention.
Neither Evren and Sahinkaya attended the trial and both have testified via video from military hospitals. It is expected that no prison at his advanced age and failing health. But the sentence has a great symbolic as part of the strategy of the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has used all the legal means at its disposal to reduce the influence of the military establishment in Turkey, responsible for four coups between 1960 and 1997 and accused of other attempts.
The Army emerged as the guarantor of the secular state in Turkey since the foundation of the modern Republic in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, commander during the War of Independence after the end of World War I Turkish forces.
The trial against Evren and Sahinkaya has been made possible by a constitutional amendment proposed by the Government and approved by referendum in 2010. Already in September 2012, an Istanbul court had sentenced three other generals to 20 years in prison for ” attempting to overthrow the Government by force ” in an alleged conspiracy originated in 2003. then, the court sentenced to different terms of imprisonment for a total of 331 people in the case. But the Supreme Court of Turkey warned yesterday that this sentence violated the rights of 230 army officers. This decision could enable replication of that judgment and, thus, contribute to a rapprochement between Erdogan and the military.
The AKP government has significant popular support and his 12 years in power have been marked by rapid economic growth and some increase democratic freedoms. However, in recent months is another great part of society has turned against Prime Minister Erdogan, whom critics accuse of wanting to impose their particular religious and conservative approach to the whole country.
Since complaining Park Gezi of central Istanbul in May and June last year, there have been dozens of demonstrations in several cities against the “authoritarianism” of Erdogan, who could become president in August and whose Executive also became involved in December 2013 in a case of alleged corruption by the four ministers were forced to resign.