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Former generals on trial in Turkey

Ex-chief of general staff among more than 100 former officers accused of overthrowing government in 1997.

Last Modified: 02 Sep 2013 17:51
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Women, calling themselves ''victims of the post-modern coup'' demonstrated in front of the courthouse [AFP]

A former Turkish army chief has gone on trial in Ankara along with more than 100 other suspects for allegedly plotting to overthrow the Turkish government 16 years ago.

Monday's hearing began with the identification of the suspects and continued with the reading of the 1,300-page indictment in the afternoon.

Among the 103 suspects, there were several former generals: Cevik Bir, Cetin Dogan, Erdal Ceylanoglu, Engin Alan and Kemal Guruz, a former head of the Higher Education Board.

Ismail Hakki Karadayi, a former chief of general staff of the Turkish amry, did not attend the trial due to health problems.

Karadayi and the other defendants face life in prison, if convicted of charges of overthrowing the Turkish government by force for pressuring former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan to resign.

Despite a request from the court for the records of the meeting on the date of the coup, the documents have not been sent to the court by the National Security Council (MGK).

Post-modern coup

Erbakan was forced to resign as prime minister almost four months after a meeting of the National Security Council on February 28, 1997.

Throughout "The February 28 process", the army imposed a series of tough rulings on Erbakan aimed primarily at curbing religious schools and Islamic education in the face of what was perceived at the time as a mounting threat to Turkey's secular system.

Erbakan's Welfare Party (RP) was banned for alleged anti-secular activities after a ruling by the Constitutional Court in 1998.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the current Turkish prime minister, was a member of the party and elected as the mayor of Istanbul in 1994 on the ticket of the RP.

Abdullah Gul, Turkey's president, was also a RP member and acted as a minister under Erbakan's leadership.

Both leaders were among the co-founders of the Justice and Development Party (AK), which won three general elections and has been in power in Turkey since 2002.

Ilker Basbug, another former chief of general staff, was one of the dozens of people convicted of involvement in a plot against the Erdogan's government 10 years ago and jailed for life last month.

The Turkish army previously staged three coups and removed elected governments from power in 1960, 1971 and 1980.

Earlier this month, scores of people including another former military chief, politicians and journalists were convicted of a separate plot to overthrow Erdogan's government in 2003 and 2004, soon after it came to power.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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