Turkish Chief of Staff Gen. Ismail Hakki Karadayi, and other...

Turkish Chief of Staff Gen. Ismail Hakki Karadayi, and other top commanders, from left, Hikmet Koksal, Guven Erkaya, Ahmet Corekci and Teoman Koman, who formed the military wing of the nation's most influental body, National Security Council, during a crucial meeting on Friday, Feb. 28,1997. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, May 17, 2024, pardoned seven former top military officers who were sentenced to life terms in prison over the ouster of an Islamic-led government in 1997. Those pardoned and expected to be released from prison later on Friday include Cetin Dogan, 83, who was head of military operation at the time. Former Gen. Cevik Bir, 85, who was deputy chief of military staff, was released along with other officers earlier due to ill-health. The main defendant, former Chief of General Staff İsmail Hakkı Karadayı, died in 2020, while the appeals process was still continuing. Teoman Koman was one of the generals involved with the 1997 ''post-modern coup''. He died in 2013. Credit: AP/BURHAN OZBILICI

ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday pardoned seven former top military officers who were sentenced to life terms in prison over the ouster of an Islamic-led government in 1997.

The former generals, who are in their late 70s and 80s, were pardoned due to health issues and old age, according to a decision published in the country’s Official Gazette overnight.

A court sentenced the generals to life in prison in 2018 for their role in a campaign that was led by Turkey’s pro-secular military and forced the resignation of the prime minister of the time, Necmettin Erbakan. Their sentences were confirmed by a court of appeals in 2021.

The ouster was later dubbed Turkey’s “postmodern coup” because unlike previous military takeovers in the country, no tanks or soldiers were used. Erbakan’s government was replaced by a coalition that was nominated by the president.

Those released from prison Friday following the decision included Cetin Dogan, 83, who was head of military operations at the time. Former Gen. Cevik Bir, 85, who was deputy chief of military staff, was released along with other officers earlier due to ill-health. The main defendant, former Chief of General Staff İsmail Hakkı Karadayı, died in 2020, while the appeals process was still continuing.

At the time of Erbakan's ouster, the army was concerned by his efforts to raise the profile of Islam in the predominantly Muslim but secular country. On Feb. 28, 1997, the military-dominated National Security Council threatened action if Erbakan did not back down. He resigned four months later.

The trial was one of several held in the country against military officers as Erdogan pressed ahead with efforts to make generals account for intervening in government affairs.

Turkish then-Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan greets generals after laying a...

Turkish then-Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan greets generals after laying a wreath at the mausoleum of Turkey's founder Kemal Ataturk in Ankara on Monday, May 26, 1997. General Ismail Hakki Karadayi, Turkish then-Chief of Staff, is behind Erbakan. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, May 17, 2024, pardoned seven former top military officers who were sentenced to life terms in prison over the ouster of an Islamic-led government in 1997. The main defendant, former Chief of General Staff Ismail Hakki Karadayi, died in 2020, while the appeals process was still continuing. Credit: AP/BURHAN OZBILICI

Turkey’s military, which had long regarded its role as protector of the country’s secular traditions, staged three coups between 1960 and 1980. In July 2016, Turkey quashed a coup attempt that the government has blamed on supporters of a U.S.-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen. The cleric denies involvement.

The pardon comes a week after Erdogan met with main opposition party leader Ozgur Ozel, who raised the issue of clemency. Ozel’s pro-secular Republican People’s Party swept local elections in March.

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

Updated now A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

Updated now A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

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