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Life sentence for coup leaders

June 18, 2014

A Turkish court has sentenced a former president and an air force commander to life in prison for their roles in the 1980 military coup. Kenan Evren and Tahsin Sahinkaya were accused of crimes against the state.

Kenan Evren Türkei General Archive 1960
Image: imago/Zuma/Keystone

On Wednesday, a court handed life sentences to two generals found guilty of being behind Turkey's 1980 military takeover, the bloodiest in the country's coup-ridden history. The ailing, retired generals Kenan Evren, 96, and Tahsin Sahinkaya, 89 - the former president and air force commander, respectively - were found guilty of crimes against the state for ousting the civilian government by force.

The two men had stood trial since 2012 for leading the coup. Neither attended the trials because of ill-health and both gave testimony to the court through a video conference system from their hospital beds.

Though the 1980 coup stopped deadly fighting between political extremists, it set the stage for a regime that tortured thousands of people, sentenced hundreds to death and made many more disappear while ushering in an era of military dominance in Turkish politics.

mkg/rg (Reuters, AFP, AP)