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Turkish appeals court upholds coup plot convictions against military leaders

A Turkish appeals court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of several former military officers for plotting to overthrow the regime of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [official website, in Turkish; JURIST news archive] in 2003. The court upheld 20-year prison sentences [Reuters report] for former commanders Cetin Dogan and Ozden Ornek. Supporters of the military officers argued that the trials were politically motivated and an attempt by Erdogan's Islamist-rooted government to suppress secularism. Lawyers for the retired military officials plan to appeal the case to the European Court of Human Rights [official website].

In September trial began in the 13th Ankara Criminal Court for more than 100 senior military officials accused of plotting to overthrow the Turkish government in 1997 [JURIST report]. 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 report] 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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