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Prosecutor demands prison for ex-army chief due to remarks on 1960 coup

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A Turkish prosecutor has demanded a prison sentence of up to three years for İlker Başbuğ, a former chief of the Turkish General Staff, on charges of inciting hatred and enmity among the public with remarks about a military coup in 1960, local media reported on Thursday.

Başbuğ made the remarks in an interview with the Cumhuriyet daily in January 2021 during which he said the 1960 coup could have been avoided if then-Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, who was executed after the coup attempt, had called for early elections. Başbuğ is accused of hinting at a coup with his remarks.

“Staging a military coup against a government that had called for early elections would have been an explicit coup on the will of the people,’’ Başbuğ said in the interview.

According to Turkish media reports, Başbuğ didn’t attend Thursday’s hearing at the İstanbul 2nd Criminal Court of First Instance, during which the prosecutor submitted his opinion, accusing the ex-army chief of “inciting hatred and enmity among the public” and demanding a prison sentence of up to three years for him.

Başbuğ’s lawyers then requested time to prepare a rebuttal to the opinion, upon which the proceedings were adjourned.

The case against Başbuğ has 166 plaintiffs including the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) provincial and district chairs.

After a backlash from pro-government circles who accused him of implying the possibility of a military coup, Başbuğ’s lawyer rejected the accusations, saying his client’s remarks were taken out of context.

Başbuğ, who served between 2008 and 2010, was one of the hundreds of secular military officers jailed as part of the Ergenekon investigations, a series of trials purported at the time to have exposed a clandestine criminal organization that sought to overthrow the AKP. He was released in 2014 after a local court overturned his conviction for plotting a coup.

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