İlker Başbuğ, a former chief of the Turkish General Staff, is facing a prison sentence of up to three years on charges of inciting hatred and enmity among the public with remarks about a military coup in 1960, local media outlets reported.
Başbuğ made the remarks in an interview with the Cumhuriyet daily in January during which he said the 1960 coup could have been avoided if then-Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, who was executed after the coup attempt, had called for early elections. Başbuğ is accused of hinting at a coup with his remarks.
An indictment drafted by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office names 166 plaintiffs including ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) regional and women’s branch chairs.
“Staging a military coup against a government that had called for early elections would have been an explicit coup on the will of the people,’’ Başbuğ said in the interview.
After a backlash from pro-government circles who accused him of implying the possibility of a military coup, Başbuğ’s lawyer rejected the accusations, saying his client’s remarks were taken out of context.
Başbuğ, who served between 2008 and 2010, was one of hundreds of secular military officers jailed as part of the Ergenekon investigations, a series of trials purported at the time to have exposed a clandestine criminal organization that sought to overthrow the AKP. He was released in 2014 after a local court overturned his conviction for plotting a coup.