A court hearing the trial regarding the crimes of the Sept. 12, 1980 coup d'état will be investigating non-military individuals or organizations that made the military intervention possible by lending support to the generals.
The Ankara 12th High Criminal Court is hearing the Sept. 12, 1980 coup trial. In a court session on Friday, the panel of judges requested that the Ankara Prosecutor's Office in charge of crimes that fall under Antiterrorism Law (TMK) Article 10 identify the individuals named in a document titled the Civilian Affairs Coordination Group, part of the strategic material created by the generals who led the coup at the time. However, the court also announced that the document could not be accessed at this time.
Kenan Evren, the former chief of General Staff who led the coup and then became the seventh president of the republic, and Tahsin Şahinkaya, the then-commander of the Turkish Air Force, are the two suspects in the trial. Some of the co-plaintiffs and their legal representatives, as well as lawyers representing the Turkish Parliament, the Turkish Government, the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), the Confederation of Revolutionary Workers' Unions (DİSK), the All Teachers Unity and Solidarity Association (TÖBDER) and similar organizations which have co-plaintiff status in the case attended Friday's session.
The presiding judge announced that two documents -- also on civilian involvement in the coup -- requested from the General Staff could not be accessed. Senih Özay, a lawyer for the co-plaintiffs, accused the General Staff of purposefully withholding information from the court. Another lawyer, Mehmet Horuş, said the general staff has been resisting the trial since it started.
Selçuk Koacman, the newly assigned prosecutor to the case, asked the court for more time to submit the prosecutor's case regarding the civilians that allegedly supported the junta. The panel of judges sent a query to the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) requesting information about the Civilian Affairs Coordination Group, which is known to have existed at the time of the coup. The court also wrote to the Ankara TMK Article 10 Prosecutor's Office, requesting an investigation into the document and the individuals who were part of the Civilian Affairs Coordination Group. The General Staff will also be contacted one more time, the court said. The prosecutor was given time until Oct. 25 to present his case.
Speaking at Friday's hearing, Öztürk Türkdoğan, a lawyer for the co-plaintiffs in the trial, said the 1980 coup was similar to the recent coup d'état that took place in Egypt. “This coup [in Egypt] has shown that we should be more careful about this trial. The prosecutor had to present his case. This current situation causes ambiguity about the future of the trial. Whatever is the punishment for the crime at hand, it should be given. In Egypt, the military staged a coup using the exact same methods as those that were used 30 years previously. There was going to be a true revolution; a popular uprising, but the soldiers staged a bloody coup. History has repeated itself. This trial is much more significant after this hour.”
The 1980 military coup was the bloodiest in the history of Turkey. Some 650,000 people were detained during this period and records were kept on 1,683,000 people at police stations. Over 230,000 people were tried in 210,000 cases, mostly for political reasons. A further 517 people were sentenced to death, while 7,000 people faced charges that carried a sentence of capital punishment. Of those who received the death penalty, 50 were executed. As a result of unsanitary and inhumane living conditions and torture in prison, a further 299 people died while in custody. Many also cite the coup as a major factor that made the Kurdish issue more inextricable.
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