1980 coup chiefs set for key testimony

1980 coup chiefs set for key testimony

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
1980 coup chiefs set for key testimony

Main coup plotter Evren will give his testimony via a video link.

The two surviving leaders of the military junta that led Turkey’s Sept. 12, 1980, coup will testify today in front of a court via an audio and visual conference system as part of the country’s efforts to face up to past military interventions.

A parliamentary commission on coups, meanwhile, outlined yesterday the framework of much-anticipated questions to be addressed by its members to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in written form.

Retired generals Kenan Evren and Tahsin Şahinkaya, who were the respective chief of staff and the air forces commander at the time of the coup, are both in treatment in military hospitals and will testify through a video conference system from their hospital rooms.

In September Ankara’s 12th Court of Serious Crimes ruled that Evren and Şahinkaya could testify without coming to the courtroom. The decision came in response to a demand by the prosecutor that a medical report prove that Evren and Şahinkaya were unable to attend court hearings due to their critical health condition. A delegated judge will witness their testimonies at the hospitals.

Prepared by the Forensic Medical Institute, the report was presented at the fifth hearing after much anticipation. The report found the two former generals were not sufficiently healthy to stand before the court, as their conditions could become so life-threatening that doctors would be unable to save them if they attended the hearings in person, the report said. Evren, who served as president between 1982 and 1989, is 95 years old while Şahinkaya is 87 years old.

Another milestone in efforts to face past military actions is Parliament’s Coups and Military Memorandums Inquiry Commission’s decision to hear Erdoğan. Due to the premier’s busy schedule, he will receive and reply to the question in written form.

The opposition questions addressed to Erdoğan focused on the “post-modern coup” of Feb. 28, 1997, the 2007 “e-memorandum” and the much-speculated Dolmabahçe meeting of 2007.

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies have prepared their questions and handed it over to the commission’s presidency in order to be conveyed to Erdoğan.

The CHP asked why the government did not launch any investigation into former Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt even though Erdoğan had stated he had a negative approach toward the government.

The party also asked whether there was a record of the Dolmabahçe meeting between Erdoğan and Büyükanıt and, if not, whether the absence of such a record was against state customs, as well as the reason for honoring Büyüknanıt with the State Medal of Distinguished Service even though he was the figure behind the release of the e-memorandum.

Recalling Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç’s remarks suggesting that the e-memorandum had brought a 10 percent increase to the ruling party’s vote, CHP deputies asked Erdoğan whether he agreed with Arınç’s argument.

CHP deputies recalled that Cüneyt Zapsu, then a close aide of Erdoğan, was at the time quoted as telling U.S. officials, “Take advantage of this man. Because this person has so much credibility, because of his own beliefs in the Muslim world and he believes in Western-style democracy. I think instead of pushing him down, putting him to the drain, use [him]. ... Here and in Europe you should take advantage of that. This is my offer,” referring to the prime minister. CHP deputies asked Erdoğan whether these remarks were authentic.