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Turkey: No government official at funeral of coup leader

May 11, 2015 at 3:49 pm

There will be no attendance from Turkish government officials to the state funeral of 1980 coup leader Kenan Evren, said the Turkish Prime Ministry on Monday.

Mastermind of the bloodiest military coup in Turkish history, Evren passed away Saturday at the age of 97 at a hospital in capital Ankara.

As Turkey’s seventh president, Evren is entitled to a state funeral. He will be buried on Tuesday at the State Cemetery in Ankara, the office of the Turkish Chief of General Staff announced earlier on Monday.

Earlier in the day, senior officials from the ruling Justice and Development, or AK, Party and the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, also announced that they would not be present at the funeral ceremony.

A Turkish human rights group called “Association of Human Rights Defenders” also protested that Evren should not receive a state funeral, calling for a boycott of any ceremony for the leader of 1980 coup that saw hundreds killed.

Kenan Evren had been receiving 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 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, and claimed hundreds of lives.

For the following 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.

Until 2010, because of constitutional limitations, coup leaders 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.