Erdoğan pardons 3 former generals serving life sentences for role in ’97 postmodern coup

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has used his presidential power to pardon three former generals who were imprisoned last year due to their role in a military intervention in Turkey in 1997, known as the February 28 post-modern coup, the Tr724 news website reported on Friday, citing the Official Gazette.

Former generals Ahmet Çörekçi (91), Hakkı Kılınç (83) and İdris Koralp (75), who were serving life sentences, have been pardoned due to their deteriorating health.

Vural Avar, 85, one of the group of convicted former generals, died in his sleep in December. Avar was being held in Ankara’s Sincan Prison despite health problems, according to reports.

The Ankara 5th High Criminal Court issued its final judgment on July 13, 2018, sentencing 14 former generals to life in prison on charges of forming criminal associations to overthrow the government and acquitting 68 defendants.

The Supreme Court of Appeals upheld the life sentences handed down to the 14 defendants in July 2021, and warrants were issued for the arrest of the former generals in August of the same year. The retired generals were also stripped of their rank.

The trial concerned the military intervention of February 28, 1997, often described as a “postmodern coup,” which did not result in direct military rule but forced the late Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan to resign after the National Security Council (MGK) issued a memorandum.

The bloodless “postmodern” coup is famous for having deposed the head of government after tanks paraded on the outskirts of Ankara and Erbakan was given an ultimatum.

Because the Islamist Erbakan-led government was forced out without the dissolution of parliament or the suspension of the constitution, the event was labeled a “postmodern coup” by members of the military involved in the process.

Erbakan resigned four months later, while his conservative Welfare Party (RP) and its successor, the Virtue Party (FP), were both banned by the Constitutional Court in January 1998 and June 2001, respectively. Erbakan, who died in 2011, pioneered Islamist politics in Turkey, a Muslim country with a secular state system, paving the way for the later success of current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP). Erdoğan was also involved in politics under Erbakan’s party and was elected mayor of İstanbul in 1994.

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