WASHINGTON — A former Turkish general has been sentenced to life in prison, creating dissension from within Turkey over the increasingly authoritarian rule of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan.
Reuters reports that retired military chief of staff General Ilker Basbug was sentenced to life imprisonment for plotting against the ruling government. The plot included key opposition lawmakers in parliament and other military personnel.
The ruling Turkish government has been criticized for recent moves that hint at a surging Islamist tendency, such as banning alcohol advertisements and sales during certain hours. They also suffered a black eye when they planned to close a park famous for protests and it became an international controversy. They even planned to limit the impact of social media like Twitter.
Erdogan’s government called it the “Ergenekon” conspiracy to overthrow his government. There were about 300 accused defendants and 3 opposition leaders from the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) were sentenced to 12-35 years in prison.
The Erdogan government accused these people of acting as the Ergenekon, or pursuing extra-judicial killings and bombings in order for a military coup to arise and overthrow Erdogan.
Opposition lawmakers voiced displeasure over the decision, saying the courts were unfairly influenced and that the Erdogan government had come up with trumped up charges.