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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
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 Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs