Former Gens. Kenan Evren and Tahsin Şahinkaya, two surviving leaders of the Sept. 12, 1980 coup, for the first time began delivering their testimony to a court via teleconference in the Sept. 12 coup trial, as they cited their health problems as obstacles preventing them from attending the hearing.
It was a source of disappointment for the Turkish public not to see the two coup plotters in the courtroom.
Adem Yavuz Arslan from Bugün says he wanted to see Evren and Şahinkaya in the dock and testifying to the judge in the courtroom. But the fact that they could not be brought to the courtroom does not reduce the trial’s importance. It is still highly significant that we are seeing the coup plotters being tried for the first time in the country. Another point Arslan highlights is the fact that both of the coup plotters say they do not regret their actions and would do it again if it were today. This, together with their relaxed attitude during the hearing, indicates that the pro-coup mentality which argues “the army is the guardian of the regime and it can intervene when civilians fail in politics” is like a virus that is hard to get rid of. Both Evren and Şahinkaya have already been infected with this virus and they will stay this way until their last day, he notes.
Taraf’s Ahmet Altan, on the other hand, says that when he saw the Sept. 12 hearing and the two former generals answering questions from their hospital beds, he thought that despite the proverb “Revenge is a dish best served cold,” cold food does not taste so good. What he saw was two old men rather than two coup perpetrators, and Altan says he wishes that the Turkish public could have brought them before a judge when they were stronger. “I think while settling accounts with the coup perpetrators, we should also render accounts for ourselves. We still have not changed the current Constitution [which is a product of this coup]. We are trying coup plotters, but we still maintain many institutions established in the post-Sept. 12 coup period. And despotism in our country is still not over yet,” he says.
Zaman’s Mustafa Ünal agrees with Altan and says almost everyone is against the Sept. 12 coup, yet the best response they can give to the Sept. 12 perpetrators is a brand new constitution. And that is not the job of the judiciary; it is the job of politics, he notes.