Ankara court dismisses Turkey’s 1980 military coup trial

Coup leaders Kenan Evren and Tahsin Şahinkaya.

An Ankara court has ruled on Thursday to dismiss the 1980 military coup trial citing the death of two defendants, namely the former chief of general staff and the air force commander of the time – the only military figures still alive when the trial began five years ago.

Ankara 10th Criminal Court’s decision came after the court listened to pleas from the lawyers of the two deceased defendants The Ankara 10th high criminal court board ruled for the non-suit in the coup case into Kenan Evren, the coup leader, the former chief of general staff and the 7th president of Turkey, and Ali Tahsin Şahinkaya, the retired air commander.

Coup leader retired Gen. Kenan Evren, who was sentenced to life imprisonment on June 18, 2014, for his role in the coup, passed away at the age of 97, in May 2015. Former air force general Tahsin Şahinkaya also died just one month after Evren’s death, in July.

The trial of Evren and Şahinkaya began in April 2012 with the prosecution arguing the two had attempted to “eliminate” the Turkish constitution and override the parliament; both generals were also demoted to the rank of private. The two former generals had not attended court proceedings, citing poor health and instead appeared via video link from the hospital.

The Sept. 12, 1980, military coup was known as the bloodiest military intervention in Turkey’s history, during which a group of generals seized power after years of political unrest that claimed hundreds of lives. More than 650,000 people were detained during the 1980 coup period, while 230,000 were put on trial, mostly for political reasons, and 50 were executed. A further 299 died because of torture and unhealthy prison conditions.

May 4, 2016

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