From Charles I to Charles Taylor
13 The Yassıada Trial, the Greek Colonels, Emperor Bokassa, and the Argentine Generals: Transitional Justice, 1960–2007
The World War II therefore saw a glut of trials of former heads of state and government. Perhaps this was inevitable after such a worldwide conflagration which had ended in such apocalyptic events as the attempted destruction of the chosen people and the detonation of bombs which reduced entire cities to ruins in an instant. The overriding desire was for a new international system which would ensure world peace once and for all, a desire expressed by the slogan ‘Never again war!’
Unfortunately war is part of the human condition and the respite from it, and the concomitant lull in trials of heads of state, lasted but two decades until the Yassıada trial of the entire Turkish government and all the members of the parliamentary majority in 1960. The Turkish army had overthrown the government in May and, like all regimes which have seized power by force, it needed to demonstrate that its coup had been legal because the previous regime had been acting criminally and violating the constitution.
The Yassıada trial, so called because it was conducted on the Prince’s Island of that name in the Sea of Marmara, a veritable island fortress, is as emblematic a regime trial as one can imagine. There were 592 defendants including the ousted former President of the Republic, Celal Bayar, the former Prime Minister, Adnan Menderes, the former President of the Assembly, Refik Koraltan, all the Democratic Party members of the Grand National...
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