16.4 C
Frankfurt am Main

Erdoğan pardons 7 retired generals serving life sentences for role in 1997 coup

Must read

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has used his presidential power to pardon seven 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 February 28 postmodern coup.

The generals — Çevik Bir, Çetin Doğan, Fevzi Türkeri, Yıldırım Türker, Aydan Erol, Erol Özkasnak and Cevat Temel Özkaynak — 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.

The retired generals were also stripped of their rank following their conviction due to their alleged involvement in a 1997 military memorandum that led to the forced resignation of an Islamic-led government.

Erdoğan made his decision, published in the Official Gazette on Friday, about the retired generals based on reports from the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) due to “advanced age” and “constant state of illness.”

Presidents have the power to pardon convicts due to advanced age or health problems, according to the 104th article of the Turkish Constitution.

There have long been calls for Erdoğan to use his presidential power to pardon the retired generals, who were dealing with a series of health problems while incarcerated.

The issue was also brought up by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Özgür Özel, who met with Erdoğan earlier this month in a rare event that brought the leaders of the two largest parties in Turkey together for a face-to-face meeting for the first time in eight years.

The meeting came against the backdrop of the recent local elections, which saw the CHP emerge victorious after 47 years, relegating the Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) to second place for the first time in 22 years.

Özel called the development a “belated but a right step” on X late on Thursday.

The release of retired generals began on Friday.

Doğan, 83, who was released from a prison in İzmir, told reporters there is no “pardon” in question but rather the belated realization of a constitutional duty by the president.

He said as long as the rule of law is not adhered to in Turkey, no problems will be resolved. “Justice is something we are all in need of,” he said.

Doğan’s wife Nilgün had frequently spoken to the media about the several health problems her husband was suffering from in prison and how his incarceration led to a significant deterioration of his health, resulting in risks to his life.

Also known as the “February 28 process,” the memorandum was one of the major military interventions in politics in contemporary Turkish history, leading to a crackdown on political parties and politicians accused by the military establishment of seeking to dismantle Turkey’s secular order and to the introduction of widespread bans and restrictions on the lives of pious people.

Erdoğan himself saw his political career impacted by February 28, having to step down as mayor of İstanbul and imprisoned for four months in 1999 over his recital of a nationalist poem during a rally.

Critics have accused him of perpetuating the cycle of persecution, becoming like his former oppressors who exerted political influence over the judiciary and locking his opponents up in vindictive trials.

Meanwhile, Erdoğan’s decision about the retired generals came on the same day that an Ankara court handed down lengthy jail sentences to dozens of Kurdish politicians in a trial concerning the 2014 protests in Turkey’s southeast against the siege of the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants.

The lengthy sentences were handed down to the Kurdish politicians, including the former leaders of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtaş and Figen Yüksekdağ, despite expectations of a normalization regarding the political trials in the country.

The talk of a normalization emerged following the local elections, when Erdoğan and CHP leader Özel began to engage in dialogue and avoided using language that would increase tensions in the country.

There were comments on social media suggesting that Erdoğan decided to pardon the retired generals in a bid to prevent secular circles from criticizing the government due to the Kobani trial verdicts.

Liked it? Take a second to support Turkish Minute on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!
More News
Latest News