Turkey Sentences 1980 Coup Architects to Life in Prison

Kenan Evren, one of the leaders of Turkey's 1980 military coup. Photo by the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey

A Turkish court has issued a life sentence for former President Kenan Evren and former air force commander Tahsin Sahinkaya.

Evren, 96, and 89-year-old Sahinkaya were found guilty of crimes against the state, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The trial against the two men known to be behind the military takeover on September 12, 1980 started in 2012, but both failed to appear at the court's sittings due to ill health. Their testimony was delivered to court through video conferences from their beds in hospital.

Both Evren and Sahinkaya were as well stripped of military ranks.

The Prosecution first insisted that they be given an aggravated life sentence, but magistrates decided to ignore their calls due to "attenuating circumstances".

Turkey saw in 1980 its third coup d'etat since it was founded as a republic in 1923.

In an environment of political and social tensions fomented by international antagonism during the Cold War, the military stepped in, allegedly to bring order, and ruled over the next three years.

Fifty executions were performed and about 500 000 people were arrested within that period.

Evren remained President after the military years. He was Turkey's head of state between 1980 and 1989.

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