1980 coup case closed with ultimate verdict by appeals court
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULJun 25, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Jun 25, 2016 12:00 am
The Supreme Court of Appeals put the lid on a case regarding the 1980 coup, the last major military coup in a country where coups have been common since it evolved from monarchy to a republic.
The court overturned a lower court's verdict to sentence the coup leaders to life imprisonment, citing that the coup charges should be dropped due to the statute of limitations. Kenan Evren and Tahsin Şahinkaya, the only surviving leaders of the coup, died last year in their nineties, of natural causes. Evren was the chief of general staff, and Şahinkaya was the commander of air forces, when the army seized power on Sept.12, 1980, following political turmoil between left-wing and right-wing groups in the country. Both men were tried and sentenced by an Ankara court before their deaths, but they were not sent to prison as their fragile health forced them to stay in the hospital, where they died within months.
Although the Court of Appeals acknowledged that they should not have been sentenced due to the statute of limitations, it acknowledged that what they did was obviously a coup "against a democratically elected government, a crime against humanity." It also shot down past arguments about an article in the Turkish constitution viewed as protection for coup leaders. The court said Article 15, which says no legal action can be taken against a council appointed by the army at the time of a coup, did not protect the defendants, as torture and other crimes against humanity, which the coup regime committed, cannot fall within the definition of the article.
The coup, held under the pretext of ending political turmoil in the country, saw leaders of all political parties imprisoned and banned for years. Through the decisions and practices of the National Security Council of the coup regime, 50 people were hanged between 1980 and 1984, including activists from both left-wing and right-wing movements. Hundreds of thousands of people were arrested, and torture under detention was widespread, as 300 people died dubiously.