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

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora