Top Turkish court rejects appeal of convicted 1980 military coup leaders
Oya Armutçu HÜRRİYET / ANKARA
Coup leader Kenan Evren (C), 96, and then-Turkish Air Forces Commander Şahinkaya (2L), 89, were handed life sentences by an Ankara court on June 18 on charges of changing all or part of the Constitution. AĞ PhotoThe Constitutional Court has unanimously rejected individual applications filed by Kenan Evren and Tahsin Şahinkaya, the two 1980 military court leaders convicted to life imprisonment last week. The applications had been made on the grounds that Evren and Şahinkaya suffered “rights violations” during their trial.
The Court stated that it refused both applications because all legal paths had not been exhausted. Coup leader Evren, 96, and then-Turkish Air Forces Commander Şahinkaya, 89, who are the only surviving members of the military junta, were handed life sentences by an Ankara court on June 18 on charges of changing all or part of the Constitution.
Lawyers for both of the retired officers had filed applications to the Constitutional Court in February 2013, demanding that the trial be declared invalid as the charges pressed against Evren and Şahinkaya were not criminal when they took power after the Sept. 12, 1980 coup. They also claimed that all internal legal paths had been exhausted as the local court overseeing the case had refused to invalidate the trial.
The 1980 military coup, Turkey’s third, prompted a wide-ranging crackdown that left deep marks on society. Fifty people were executed, an estimated half a million were detained, hundreds died in prison and many more disappeared during the three years of military rule.
Evren continued to hold the presidency until 1989, after the junta handed the executive to a civilian government in 1983.
Evren had previously said he would never testify and claimed that he would commit suicide before he could be tried. “I promise in front of my nation that I will not let this matter be dealt with in the courts. I will commit suicide,” he said in 2009, when the idea of a coup trial was discussed. He nevertheless is currently being treated at the military’s GATA hospital in Ankara.
The recent verdict was hailed by many sections of society, who had denounced the impunity surrounding Turkey’s bloodiest coup.