Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has used his presidential power to pardon two retired generals due to their advanced age who were serving life sentences for their role in a military intervention in Turkey in 1997 known as the Feb. 28 postmodern coup, Deutsche Welle Turkish edition reported.
Erdoğa made his decision on 87-year-old İlhan Kılıç and 75-year-old Kenan Deniz based on a report from the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK). Presidents have the power to pardon convicts due to advanced age or health problems, according to the 104th article of the Turkish Constitution.
The generals were among a group of retired generals who have been behind bars since August 2021 after their convictions in 2018 by a high criminal court in Ankara were upheld by the country’s top appeals court in July 2021.
Erdoğan’s decision to pardon the two retired generals came in the wake of outrage caused by the December death in prison of 85-year-old retired general Vural Avar. Avar, who was also serving a life sentence due to his role in the 1997 military intervention, died in his sleep in prison.
He had been held in Ankara’s Sincan Prison despite health problems. He was suffering from dementia that had progressed and had cracked his ribs after a fall in the prison bathroom in late October.
The retired generals were also stripped of their rank following their conviction.
The trial concerned the military intervention of Feb. 28, 1997, which did not result in direct military rule but forced the late prime minister Necmettin Erbakan to resign after the National Security Council (MGK) issued a memorandum saying that there was rising religious fundamentalism in the country.
The bloodless “postmodern” coup is famous for having deposed the head of government after tanks paraded on the outskirts of Ankara and Erbakan was given an ultimatum.
Since the Islamist Erbakan-led government was forced out without the dissolution of parliament or the suspension of the constitution, the event was labeled a “postmodern coup” by members of the military involved in the process.
Turkey saw violent coups in 1960 and 1980, but under Erdoğan, who survived an abortive putsch in 2016, the political strength of the military has been drastically curtailed.