ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - A Turkish court in the capital of Ankara on Friday handed aggravated life sentences to one of the country's former chiefs of staff Ismail Hakki Karadayi and 20 others for a 1997 military intervention that forced the then Islamist-led government leadership to resign.
State media reported that 68 other defendants were acquitted in the final hearing of the years-long case, launched in 2012 by a prosecutor now in jail for allegedly supporting the 2016 deadly coup attempt against the rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Along with Karadayi, several retired high-ranking generals, the former head of Turkey's Council of Higher Education, and a former National Security Council secretary were all sentenced to life in prison for "attempting to overthrow the government."
Often referred to as a "post-modern coup," the 1997 army memorandum to the Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan and his coalition allies was the fourth military intervention in the history of modern Turkey.
Fearing the erosion of the country's secular constitution, generals who saw themselves as guardians of the legacy of the republic's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's issued an 18-point note on the night of February 28 to Erbakan, who reluctantly chose to accept.
They did not officially take power or suspend the Turkish parliament but made sure to install a minority government.
Erbakan's far-right Welfare Party was banned by the Constitutional Court only a year later for demanding Sharia rule and, as the court charged, "violating secularism."
The party was a predecessor to Turkey's current ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of President Erdogan, then the Mayor of Istanbul.
Editing by John J. Catherine