News / Middle East

Former Turkish Army Chief Sentenced to Life in Prison

General Ilker Basbug addresses the media in Ankara, Oct. 13, 2013.
General Ilker Basbug addresses the media in Ankara, Oct. 13, 2013.
Dorian Jones
An Istanbul court has sentenced senior generals, journalists and politicians to long jail terms for an alleged conspiracy against Turkey's Islamist-rooted government. The case is the culmination of a decade-long conflict between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the country's secularist establishment.

* Former chief of Turkish staff, retired general Ilker Basbug, and at least 10 others sentenced to life in prison

* Lead suspect in the trial, former brigadier general Veli Kucuk, sentenced to life in prison

* Dozens of military officers, politicians, academics and journalists received long jail terms

* 275 accused of military coup plot against PM Erdogan's government; 21 acquitted; appeals expected

* Defendants accused of membership in "Ergenekon," clandestine organization that allegedly planned, encouraged criminal acts such as extrajudicial killings, bombings and assassinations, to pave the way for coup

* Five-year trial exposed deep tensions between the Turkey's secular elite and Erdogan's Islamist-oriented Justice and Development Party
The former head of Turkey's armed forces, retired General Ilker Basbug, was sentenced Monday to life in prison. The court ruled he was part of a terrorist conspiracy called Ergenekon that sought to overthrow the government. Many of the 275 defendants on trial were also convicted of involvement in the plot and were sentenced to years and even decades in jail. 
 
The vast majority of those jailed were senior army officers. But journalists, academics, businessmen and politicians, including three opposition members of parliament, were also among those convicted. Twenty-one others were acquitted.
 
The convictions were handed down in a courthouse at the Silivri prison complex near Istanbul.  Strict security measures were enforced around the site, with all access roads sealed off. The governor of Istanbul province banned protests outside the courthouse, and police using water cannon and tear gas dispersed crowds protesting against the trial.

A protester argues at a paramilitary police barricade as security block thousands of people outside the Silivri jail complex in Silivri, Turkey, Aug. 5, 2013.
A protester argues at a paramilitary police barricade as security block thousands of people outside the Silivri jail complex in Silivri, Turkey, Aug. 5, 2013.
 
Oktay Vural, deputy chairman of the opposition National Action Party's parliamentary group, condemned the convictions.
 
"What we seek is fairness and justice," he said, "but what we see today, unfortunately, is that this process has turned into a political game. It is such a pitiful picture that the former head of the Turkish army is tried as the head of a terrorist organization," he added.
 
The five-year trial has divided public opinion, with critics accusing the government of using the case to silence its critics, while the government insists it is crucial to establishing civilian rule. The Turkish military has ousted four governments since 1960.
 
Ever since Prime Minister Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK Party came to power in 2002, tensions have been high with the army, which sees itself as guardian of the secular state.
 
The case was opened following the discovery of an arms cache in a suburb of Istanbul. The trial was initially heralded as ending the military’s meddling in politics and enjoyed broad support. But concern over the case has steadily grown as the number of defendants, many of them well-known critics of the government, has increased. 
 
The European Union and the U.S. State Department, along with international human rights groups, have voiced concern over the handling of the case. The government has rejected such misgivings, claiming the case is ushering in a new era of democracy. Critics argue that the case symbolizes the replacement of one authoritarian rule with another. 
 
With those convicted expected to appeal, the controversy is unlikely to end soon.
 

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: david lulasa from: tambua village,gimarakwa,
August 06, 2013 6:16 AM
if no coup had taken place in egypt,that would have influenced turkish verdict...turkish army chief is now bound to stay in prison for long because mursi is the prime ministers good friend.


by: Mehmet from: Cleveland
August 05, 2013 5:38 PM

It is a real shame that a general representing the institution which the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk had entrusted to defend the republic against all ill forces, be it from within or from foreign sources, be it Communists, or Islamists, is given a life sentence for carrying out Ataturk's legacy.
The game plan of the Erdogan and his followers which has been in the making for the past decade is becoming clear each and every day. The first phase was getting the economy healthy and provide jobs has actually been good for the nation.
The second phase was to slowly eliminate present and future adversaries such as the military leadership who were sworn to keep the republic secular and journalists who were writing about the big game plan of Erdogan and helping open the eyes of the public have been effectively neutralized. The third phase was just getting to commence with laws restricting alcohol consumption; draconian attitudes toward kissing in public, turning a precious green space to Ottoman style barracks etc. etc.
Secular Turks had always counted on the strong fist of the military to stop Islamists on their tracks can no longer rely on that. Hence, people will have to fill in this large void in Turkish politics by standing up to Erdogan and his ilk and say; No More!
We are not going to let you rule and dictate how we can live our lives. We respect those who wish to follow Islamic way of life. We want the same respect for the way we live ours, and no law can and should be passed to make us ordinary citizen to "capulcus" or criminals.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs