Former Gen. İsmail Hakki Karadayı, 88, who served between 1994 and 1998 as Turkey’s Chief of General Staff, died on May 26 in Istanbul.
He had been undergoing treatment for cancer in Kadıköy Florence Nightingale Hospital.
“Our former Chief of General Staff İsmail Hakkı Karadayı lost his life due to multiple organ failure and septicemia. Karadayı had been for a while now receiving chemotherapy treatment due to metastatic cancer,” the hospital said in a statement.
Karadayı was the Chief of General Staff when the military leadership issued a memorandum against the government of Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan on Feb. 28, 1997.
Erbakan was handed a list of 18 demands by the military, almost all of which pertained directly to issues involving religion. Under intense pressure, Erbakan signed his acceptance of 18 directives and resigned on June 30, 1997, a year after having taken the oath of office.
On Jan. 16, 1998, Erbakan’s Welfare Party (“Refah Partisi”) was closed by the Constitutional Court on the grounds of violating the principle of secularism.
The events of 1997 were dubbed the “post-modern coup” as the generals used pressure behind the scenes to force Erbakan from power, in contrast to the direct intervention of three outright military coups in Turkey in 1960, 1971 and 1980.
Erbakan, who died of heart failure aged 85 in 2011, pioneered Islamist politics in Turkey and paved the way for the subsequent success of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
In a landmark decision, in 2018 a Turkish court sentenced 21 people to aggravated life imprisonment over the 1997 events, including Karadayı and his deputy, Gen. Çevik Bir.
The court concluded that Karadayı was involved in the downfall of the government.
The court however did not order the suspects’ arrest due to their old age or health age, instead ruling for judicial control and banning them from traveling abroad.
Karadayı later appealed the ruling at a higher court. “I want to be acquitted before dying. Our case has not been still finalized at the Appeals Court. I will file a petition and demand that our case is discussed at an earlier date as I want to see all my friends to be acquitted. I do not want to leave this world with the stain of a coup,” Karadayı had said in August of 2019.