ANKARA (Reuters) - Retired Turkish General Kenan Evren went on trial on Wednesday for leading a 1980 coup that shaped the country for three decades until reforms cut back the power of the military.
Turkey experienced three coups between 1960 and 1980, and in 1997 the army pressured an Islamist-led government to resign.
Here is a look at the 1980 military coup:
- On September 12, 1980, the senior command of the army led by Evren overthrew the government.
- The coup followed a resurgence of street fighting between leftists and nationalists. Leading politicians were arrested. Parliament, political parties and trade unions were dissolved.
- Many Turks, fed up with insecurity caused by rival gunmen in the late 1970s, welcomed the military takeover.
- A provisional constitution that gave almost unlimited power to military commanders was implemented.
- While the coup was bloodless, at least 50 people were later executed and around half a million were detained. Many were tortured and hundreds died in custody.
- Political life was halted for three years and many civil liberties were suspended.
- Evren has defended his coup as necessary to end years of violence between left- and right-wing factions in which some 5,000 people died.
- He kept his pledge to restore democracy, which he did when Turgut Ozal swept to victory in 1983 with a party cobbled together from liberal, nationalist and pro-Islamic forces.
- Evren, who is now 94, became president in 1982, a position he held until 1989.
- The military did not favour Ozal as the new political leader. But Evren accepted the poll result and he forged a good working relationship with the prime minister.
- Evren spent his retirement painting on Turkey’s southern coast. An exhibition of his paintings of semi-naked women in Turkish baths shocked many in 1997.
- In 2010 Turkish prosecutors opened an investigation into the former general and president, as well as former navy commander Nejat Tumer and former air force chief Tahsin Sahinkaya over the 1980 coup. Days earlier Turks had voted to approve reforms that among other things, stripped Evren and other coup leaders of immunity.
Reporting by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit