August 5, 2013
General Ilker Basbug, who led the military between 2008 and 2010, and several other former army officers, lawyers and journalists were given life sentence on Monday in the trial of 275 people accused of having role in the “Ergenekon” plot.
The court also handed down prison sentences ranging from six to 47 years to some of the defendants. Twenty-one people were acquitted.
As the verdicts were being delivered at the high-security Silivri prison complex, west of Istanbul, riot police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of anti-government protesters who had gathered outside the courthouse.
The defendants faced dozens of charges ranging from membership of Ergenekon — an underground terrorist network — to illegally possessing weapons and instigating an armed uprising against Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), which came to power in 2002. the AKP.
Prosecutors say the gang also plotted to kill Erdogan, Nobel laureate author, Orhan Pamuk, and other high-profile figures.
The defendants, however, have rejected the accusations, saying they are politically motivated.
Prosecutors had demanded life sentence for Basbug and 63 others, including nine other generals.
The Ergenekon investigation dates back to 2007 when a cache of explosives was found in the home of a former military officer. It led to the arrest of hundreds of people, including senior military officers.
The Turkish government says the Ergenekon organization was planning to stage a military coup by spreading chaos and fear across the country.