Shock waves and political debate have followed the court case in Turkey in which 322 serving and retired army officers were handed prison terms in a trial which is seen to have underlined civilian dominance over the country’s once all-powerful military.
The officers were accused of plotting to bomb mosques and trying to trigger a war with Greece in order to justify a military coup. All the defendants denied the charges.
“The Turkish Republic and our future were massacred by this verdict. We were not surprised by the ruling because one couldn’t expect a legal ruling from a case based on political grounds,” said
Huseyin Ersoz the lawyer of one defendant.
Amongst those who were sentenced at the end of the two year trial were two retired generals and a retired admiral considered the ringleaders of the so called, “Sledgehammer” plot to topple Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in 2003. They were handed life terms but will serve 20 years. The prime minister reacted after the verdicts were announced.
“We should follow the appeals process closely. What is important for us is that the right decision emerges,” he said.
The military has been referred to as the guardian of Turkey’s secular establishment but its influence over policy making has been tamed.
The case is one of a series that has sparked criticism the government is using the courts to silence political opponents.