Former Turkish Military Chief Sentenced To Life

The former head of the Turkish military, along with a group of others, was sentenced to life in prison for an attempted coup more than ten years ago:

ISTANBUL — In a landmark trial, scores of people — including Turkey’s former military chief, politicians and journalists — were convicted on Monday of plotting to overthrow Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government soon after it came to power in 2002.

Retired Gen. Ilker Basbug was the most prominent defendant among some 250 people facing verdicts after a five-year trial that has become a central drama in tensions between the country’s secular elite and Erdogan’s Islamic-oriented Justice and Development Party.

The trial has sparked protests, and on Monday police blocked hundreds of demonstrators from reaching the High Criminal Court in Silivri, 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Istanbul, in a show of solidarity with the defendants.

But Monday’s verdicts were not expected to set off the kind of violent anti-government demonstrations that were recently sparked by a government plan to build a replica Ottoman-era barracks at a park near Istanbul’s central Taksim Square.

In addition to Basbug, at least 16 other defendants were sentenced to life in prison, including 10 retired military officers and Dogu Perincek, the leader of the left-wing and nationalist Workers Party. Sixty other defendants received sentences ranging from a year to 47 years, according to state-run TRT television news.

This seems like a rather strong rebuke to the Turkish military which, historically, has played a central role in the nation’s politics.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. DC Loser says:

    To me, this is Erdogan’s attempt to neutralize the military’s unofficial role as the guarantor of a secular Turkish state and bulwark against creeping Islamization of Turkish public life. I don’t think this is over, and may have unintended repercussions like what we’re seeing in Egypt (or in the past in Pakistan). I don’t see the military being neutered just yet.

  2. Gustopher says:

    He’ll be pardoned by the next military coup.