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Turkish ex-president faces possible life sentence for 1980 military coup

Former Turkish president Kenan Evren [official profile] and former air force commander Tahsin Sahinkaya have been charged with crimes against the state in connection with a 1980 military coup and could face life imprisonment, according to Tuesday reports. Evren was head of the 1980 military coup before he became Turkey's president in 1982 and was first questioned by authorities [AA report] in June after the Turkish constitution was amended in 2010 in order to remove coup leaders' immunity. Evren and Sahinkaya are the only two generals alive out of the five men [AFP report] who are believed to have planned the 1980 military coup. The court must decide within 15 days whether it will accept the indictment and hold a trial or dismiss it.

In November, the trial began for a different coup plot for 13 Turkish journalists who were accused of formulating a plan [JURIST report] to overthrow the Islamic government in Turkey. In August, a Turkish court issued arrest warrants [JURIST report] for seven generals and admirals accused of creating anti-government websites in 2009. A number of other senior military officials are in detention for a separate investigation of the Balyoz Security Operation Plan (also known as "Operation Sledgehammer"), a military plot to overthrow the Islamic-rooted government. The "Sledgehammer" plot is similar to the Ergenekon conspiracy. The Ergenekon group is alleged to be involved in bombings, political assassination plots and the death of journalist Hrant Dink. The probe into the Ergenekon conspiracy has been criticized as an attempt by the AKP to silence opposition and further its imposition of Islamic principles [JURIST report] in violation of Turkey's secular constitution. Trials against the Ergenekon group [JURIST report] opened over two years ago with more than 200 suspects in custody.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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