Turkey Gives 19 Life Sentences

A Turkish court on Monday sentenced 19 people, including a former military chief, to life in prison for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government in 2010. Ilker Basburg, the 70-year-old former head of the armed services, was charged with 275 defendants, including 13 other military officers, a soldier, a journalist, a lawyer, a politician, and an ex-publisher with being part of a network called Ergenekon, comprised of secularists, nationalists, and military officials who plotted killings and bombings that would trigger a military coup. The defendants all insisted they were innocent, and 17 were acquitted. The trial has come to be regarded as a symbol of the fight between secularist opposition and the Islamic government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Meanwhile, security forces fired tear gas into the crowd at the Silivri jail complex, comprised mainly of supporters of the defendants.