Jan 21 2019

Turkish prosecutor seeks life term for 20 over role in 2016 coup attempt

A Turkish prosecutor on Monday demanded aggravated life sentences for 16 soldiers and four civilians accused of directing the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, pro-government Sabah newspaper reported.

The 16 soldiers are accused of directing the coup, which Ankara blames on U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen and his followers known as the Gülen movement, from the Akinci Air Base northwest of capital Ankara. 

The four civilians - Kemal Batmaz, Hakan Çiçek, Nurettin Oruç and Harun Biniş - are accused of being ''civilian imams'' of the group, which the Turkish government designates a terrorist organisation.

The Ankara-based prosecutor accused the 20 men of violating the constitution, attempt to assassinate the president and the deliberate killing of 77 people, Sabah said.

Over 300 people were killed and more than 2,100 were injured during the coup attempt.

Ankara maintains the Gülen movement was behind the failed putsch and a long-running scheme to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by infiltrating Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

Over 77,000 people accused of links to the group have been arrested and another 150,000 public employees suspended or sacked  as part of a world-wide crackdown on the group by the Turkish government following the failed putsch.