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Turkey's 'Sledgehammer' Verdicts Take Military Down a Peg

Turkish courts have convicted a large number of Turkish officers accused of trying to foment a coup d'état against the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Though a major step toward ending the military tutelage system in Turkey, the verdicts don't mean that Turkey has completed its transition to democracy, warns Henri J. Barkey for Al-Monitor.
Wives of retired and active military officers charged in the so-called Sledgehammer trial march under a huge Turkish flag during a protest at Anitkabir, the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of secular Turkey, in Ankara February 19, 2011. Turkish police arrested nearly 200 retired and serving military officers, including former top commanders, who are accused of plotting a coup in 2003 to topple Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government. The trial of alleged plotters of "Sledgehammer" reflects a

In one of the most awaited trials in Turkey, nicknamed the "Sledgehammer Case," the court convicted and sentenced a large number of active and retired Turkish officers accused of trying to foment a coup d'état against the democratically elected Justice and Development Party (AKP). This judgment represents another step in the long process to end the military tutelage system in Turkey. Paradoxically, the generals have only themselves to blame for this outcome. 

The trial's serious procedural and evidentiary problems notwithstanding, the verdict is unprecedented in Turkish civil-military relations. Except for a colonel who was convicted of mutiny in the 1960s, Turkish officers and certainly high-ranking generals had never faced a court proceeding for attempting to overthrow the constitutional order, much less for actually doing it as they did in 1960, 1971, 1980 and even as late as 1997.

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