Turkish general defends 1980 coup during questioning
General Kenan Evren, the mastermind of Turkey's 1980 coup who later became the country's seventh president, defended his actions during an unprecedented investigation into military abuses, local media reported Tuesday.
"I do not have regrets," Evren, 93, told the prosecutor conducting the investigation, Milliyet newspaper reported.
The questioning of Evren by a specially appointed prosecutor on Monday was part of the first investigation into abuses carried out by the military government that ruled Turkey from 1980 to 1982, DPA reported.
The former general had previously said he would prefer to commit suicide rather than stand trial for his actions.
Evren's lawyer said his client - who was questioned in his Ankara home due to his advanced age and poor health - told prosecutors that the September 12, 1980 coup was necessary because "constitutional institutions had become dysfunctional."
In the years prior to the coup, Turkey suffered a period of social and political instability and intense and deadly clashes between factions on the left and right.
Prosecutors launched their investigation after a package of constitutional reforms approved by Turkish voters in a national referendum in September stripped the generals responsible for the coup of their immunity.
The generals had previously been guaranteed immunity by a clause protecting them in Turkey's 1982 constitution, which was itself written by the military and approved in a constitutional referendum.
The period after the September 12 coup - Turkey's third coup - is one of the darkest in Turkish history.
Hundreds of thousands of people were arrested, many of them tortured, and about 50 people were ordered hanged by the military.
Although the military handed over power to an elected government in 1982, Evren served as president of Turkey from then until 1989.
Prosecutors have said the questioning of Evren was preliminary and they would make a decision about whether to open a case after the investigation is completed.
Of the four other generals besides Evren who organized the coup, only one, Tahsin Sahinkaya, is still alive.
Another general, who had also been summoned to testify, died last week.