FACTBOX: Coups in Turkey over last 50 years

Fri Oct 17, 2008 8:25am EDT

(Reuters) - Ergenekon, a shadowy right-wing group, will go on trial on Monday, accused of planning assassinations and bombings to trigger military intervention and the overthrow of the AK Party government in Turkey.

Here are some details about the military coups in the last 50 years, which have unseated four elected governments in Turkey:

* 1960:

-- On May 2, an almost bloodless military coup was carried out, led by officers and cadets from the Istanbul and Ankara war colleges.

-- The next day, the commander of land forces, General Cemal Gursel, demanded political reforms and resigned when his demands were refused.

-- The leaders established a 38-member National Unity Committee with Gursel as chairman. Of 601 people tried, 464 were found guilty. Three former ministers, including Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, were executed and 12 others, including President Celal Bayar, had death sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

* 1971 - The "Coup by Memorandum":

-- The military delivered a warning to the government to restore order after months of strikes and street fighting between leftists and nationalists. Some months later, Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel stepped down and a coalition of conservative politicians and technocrats set to restore order under the supervision of the military. Martial law was established in several provinces and not completely lifted until September 1973.

* 1980:

-- On September 12, 1980, the senior command of the army led by General Kenan Evren, carried out a bloodless coup. The action followed a resurgence of street fighting between leftists and nationalists. Leading politicians were arrested, and parliament, political parties, and trade unions were dissolved. A five-member National Security Council took control, suspending the constitution and implementing a provisional constitution that gave almost unlimited power to military commanders.

* 1997 - The "Post-Modern Coup":

-- On June 18, 1997 Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, denounced by opponents as a danger to the country's secular order, stepped down under pressure from the military, business, the judiciary and fellow politicians. The generals saw themselves compelled to act to defend the secular state founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

* 2008:

-- Sener Eruygur, once head of the paramilitary gendarmerie, and Hursit Tolon, the former first army commander, were arrested last July on suspicion of leading a terrorist group aiming to overthrow the government. The military denied any link to the group, known as Ergenekon.

-- Just last month Turkey's military announced it had detained five lieutenants and a cadet in what the media said was part of a probe into the right-wing group.

-- Now more than 100 people, including the two retired generals, have been detained in a 15-month nationwide investigation, increasing already high political tension.

Sources: Reuters/www.britannica.com

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