Turkish military coup leader and former president dies at 97
A file picture taken on September 4, 2010 shows, Turkey's former Army Commander General Kenan Evren, one of the leaders of the 1980 Turkish coup, siting in his home in Ankara. (AFP/Adem Altan)
The leader of the bloodiest military coup in Turkish history, Kenan Evren, has passed away at the age of 97 at a hospital in capital Ankara.
Evren had been under treatment at the Gulhane Military Medical Academy, or GATA, since March 2012. His condition deteriorated in recent days and he was pronounced dead Saturday night.
The retired army general was in power between 1980 and 1989.
An Ankara high criminal court sentenced Evren to life imprisonment on June 18, 2014, along with ex-general Tahsin Sahinkaya for their roles in the 1980 coup.
The trial of Evren and Sahinkaya began in April 2012 with the prosecution claiming that the two had attempted to "eliminate" the Turkish constitution and override the parliament; both generals were also demoted to the rank of private.
The two ex-generals had not attended court proceedings against them, citing poor health and instead they appeared via video link from the hospital.
Both defendants also lodged an appeal against their sentences with the Supreme Court of Appeals, which has yet to announce its final verdict in the case.
The Sept. 12, 1980, military coup, led by Evren, was known as the bloodiest military intervention in Turkey's history, during which a group of generals seized power after years of political unrest that claimed hundreds of lives.
For the next three years, the Turkish Armed Forces ruled the country directly through the National Security Council -- the formal name of the junta -- before general elections were held, installing a new parliament that elected Evren as Turkey’s seventh president in November 1982, a post he held until the end of his rule in November 1989.
More than 650,000 people were detained during the 1980 coup period, while 230,000 were put on trial, mostly for political reasons, and 50 were executed. A further 299 died because of torture and unhealthy prison conditions.
The Turkish army had ousted elected governments in 1960, 1971 and 1980; however, because of constitutional limitations, coup leaders such as Evren and Sahinkaya could not be held accountable.
After the annulment of provisional article No. 15 in Turkey’s constitution -- the article which was used to give immunity to generals -- through a referendum on Sept. 12, 2010, the road to open the case against Evren and Sahinkaya began.