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Turkish court begins trial for military officials involved in post modern coup

Trial began Monday in the 13th Ankara Criminal Court for more than 100 senior military officials accused of plotting to overthrow the Turkish government in 1997. In February 1997, Turkey's secular National Security Council allegedly met and voted to impose strict rules [Al Jazeera report] limiting Islamist education in order to force pro-Islam Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan to step down from office. In 1998, the council won a legal battle in the nation's high court effectively banning any affiliation with Erbakan's political party. Two of Erbakan's ministers then co-founded the Justice and Development Party, which has remained in power after winning three general elections since 2002. The coup is known as the "post modern coup" because the plotters did not use military force to overthrow the government, but instead used pressure through workings within the government. Prosecutor Mustafa Bilgili's 1,300 page indictment charges [World Bulletin report] former-Army chief General Ismail Hakki Karadayi and former-Generals Cevik Bir, Cetin Dogan, Erdal Ceylanoglu, and Engin Alan. The prosecution has reportedly asked the court to hand down life sentences for those allegedly involved.

The 1997 "post modern coup" was the fourth military overthrow that occurred in Turkey in 40 years. In April, the Ankara 12th High Criminal Court began its trial [JURIST report] of the last two surviving leaders of Turkey's 1980 coup, former general Kenan Evren and former air force commander Tahsin Sahinkaya. That coup led to three years of military rule, during which 50 people were hanged and a half million were arrested. The trial of those two individuals came after the court accepted the indictment against them in January based on charges pressed [JURIST reports] by the prosecution a week earlier. Prosecutors are seeking life sentences against both men in the ongoing trial, which was delayed [Reuters report] in January to allow the prosecution to seek more evidence. Both men suffer from severe health issues due to their ages.

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