5 Apr 2012

1980 coup leaders on trial

6:45 am on 5 April 2012

In a highly symbolic court case in Turkey, two retired generals have gone on trial in Ankara charged with overthrowing the civilian government in 1980.

General Kenan Evren, 94, and General Tahsin Sahinkaya, 86, are the only survivors among the plotters who staged a military coup.

General Evren was later president from 1983-89. Neither appeared in the Ankara court on Wednesday owing to poor health.

Some 600,000 people were detained after the coup. Many were tortured and 50 executed by hanging while hundreds more were told they would face the death penalty.

A constitutional clause granting the generals immunity from prosecution was overturned after a referendum in 2010.

Prosecutors are seeking life terms for both men.

However, the BBC says they will not go to prison because of their age and frail health.

The prosecutor's office said the court in Ankara could hear the men's testimonies via video link.