Turkey jailed 275 opposition leaders today, including army and police officers, journalists, writers and lawyers, for allegedly plotting a military coup to overthrow Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Israel’s Walla News reported.
Tear gas was used to disperse hundreds of protesters outside a special court set up at the Silibri prison, west of Istanbul, Walla News said.
The two main defendants in the case were Army General Lee Kuzuk and journalist Tonz’ai Aosekan, both sentenced to life imprisonment for heading this underground movement.
Walla News said former Border Police commander Hassan Aisiz was sentenced to life imprisonment, and former police chief Adil Stz’n was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Communist Workers Party leader, Frinz’k Duo was sentenced to 117 years in prison, and writer Ergün Poyraz, convicted of incitement, was sentenced to 29 years in prison. Goliir Komorg’o, another writer, was sentenced to seven years in prison.
A total of 21 defendants were acquitted.
Since coming to power in 2002, Erdogan’s government has arrested and imprisoned hundreds of soldiers and police officers, including active and retired personnel, Walla News reported. Conflict between the prime minister and the armed forces has intensified over the past two years, as the arrests continued and top military leaders resigned in protest.
In Turkey, today’s sentences were received as both a message to the army that Erdogan is the absolute ruler of the country and that the government will continue its witch-hunt aimed at discouraging civilian opposition. Human rights groups have expressed concern over the detentions and trials, Walla News said.