Lawsuit seeks seizure of assets of 1980 coup leaders

Published 28.12.2018 00:00
Updated 28.12.2018 08:00

A lawyer for plaintiffs in the trial of leaders of the 1980 military coup, launched an appeal for seizure of assets belonging to deceased defendants.

Senih Özay asked the 10th High Criminal Court of Ankara to seize the properties, rights and privileges of the defendants and their descendants.

"We examined the report of MASAK (a state-run body tasked with investigating financial crimes) on Evren and Şahinkaya and found out extraordinary financial gains in their possession," Özay told reporters yesterday.

He was referring to Gen. Kenan Evren who declared himself president after seizing power on Sept. 12, 1980 and Tahsin Şahinkaya, the head of the Turkish Air Forces during the coup. Both men died within months in 2015 of old age, one year after both were convicted of crimes against the state and sentenced to life imprisonment. They were the first generals to be tried and convicted of leading a coup in Turkey while leaders of the 1960 coup dodged conviction as they passed away years before political changes paved the way for trials. Both men were stripped of their military titles but that was the only sentence they could be handed as they were confined to a hospital bed and died during the trial.

A retrial will be held next year after Supreme Court overturned a lower court's ruling over a technicality. The Supreme Court first ordered to drop the charges as the defendants died.

Senih Özay said that the ruling also canceled the verdict for both men to be stripped of their titles and as plaintiffs' lawyers, they sought to cancel all the rights of Evren and Şahinkaya. "Per our request, they should be dismissed from the army, their military titles should be revoked, salaries paid to them as generals and any additional payments stemming from their tenure in office, should be ordered to be paid back to the state," he said.

The request also seeks seizure of any assets inherited by descendants of Evren and Şahinkaya. It says assets were criminal earnings as both men amassed fortunes when they seized power as coup leaders.

The 1980 coup was one of the darkest chapters in the brief history of the Republic of Turkey stained with coups and coup attempts including one in 2016. After the coup, Evren dissolved Parliament and detained all prominent politicians in a regime of coercion that lasted several years. Some 1.6 million people were blacklisted, 650,000 detained and 230,000 were tried in courts. Fifty people, some juveniles, and most political prisoners, were executed while 300 people died in prisons, mostly from torture.

Evren's five-member military council ruled until November 1983 when the generals handed back power to civilians. Still, the military remained the real powerbroker behind the government. Evren quit the military but remained in power after ensuring that he was elected president for seven years in a 1982 referendum.

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