Monday, August 5, 2013

Turkey coup plot: Ex-Army Chief sentenced to life imprisonment - Zee News

Zee Media Bureau

Istanbul: A Turkish court on Monday sentenced ex-Army Chief Ilker Basbug to life in prison accused of plotting to overthrow the country's Islamic-rooted government, BBC reported.

The court delivered its first ruling today in the trial of 275 people including former Army Chief Gen Basbug.

However, Gen Basbug, who led the military between 2008 and 2010, had rejected all the charges against him.

Among the defendants in the high-profile case - seen as a key test in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's showdown with secularist and military opponents - are ex-Army Chief Ilker Basbug and some other Army officers as well as lawyers, academics and journalists. They face dozens of charges, ranging from membership of an underground "terrorist organisation" dubbed Ergenekon to arson, illegal weapons possession, and instigating an armed uprising against Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), which came to power in 2002.

The 2,455-page indictment accuses members of Ergenekon - an alleged shadowy network of ultranationalists trying to seize control in Turkey - of a string of attacks and political violence over several decades to stir up unrest.

However, Turkey's secular Opposition has denounced the lengthy trial, which began in 2008, as a witch hunt aimed at silencing government critics.

On the other hand, pro-government circles have praised the Ergenekon trial as a step towards democracy in Turkey, where the Army violently overthrew three governments in 1960, 1971 and 1980.

In 1997, the Army pressured then Islamic-leaning prime minister Necmettin Erbakan, the political mentor of the current premier, into stepping down in what was popularly dubbed a "post-modern coup" strategy.
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