Former army chief Gen Ilker Basbug, sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in a plot to overthrow the government, released from jail.

ISTANBUL — Former army chief Gen Ilker Basbug, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in a plot to overthrow the government has now been released from jail.

It was a local court that ordered the release of Basbug after Turkey’s constitutional court reversed his sentence due to a legal technicality. Apparently his rights were violated.

Basbug was in charge of the Turkish military from 2008 to 2010 and was sentenced to life imprisonment in August 2013. He was found guilty of being in charge of a shadowy network of nationalists called Ergenekon.

It was the current government, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AK Party) that he wanted to overthrow. The AK Party is based on Islam and it wants to reduce the power of the Turkish military which is seen to be a pillar of the modern secular state.

“They stole 26 months from my life,” said Basbug who has always denied the charges.

His lawyer, Ilkay Sezer was glad of his release but said that there were, “many more people in jails who are suffering severe health problems and who have been victims of these courts”.

Between 2012 and 2013, hundreds of people were jailed in two high profile cases named Sledgehammer and Ergenekon. In January this year, the high command of the armed forces and the opposition insisted on a retrial. Prime Minister Erdogan said he agreed with this idea.

There is tension in Turkey at the moment due to alleged corruption in the government.

—  Jennifer Ubah, Correspondent (Europe)

Image Courtesy: By English: Cherie Cullen [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons