Turkey convicts 121 people to life in prison in failed coup trial
A penal court in Turkish capital Ankara has convicted to life in prison 121 out of the 245 suspects in the case pertaining to putschist activity in the Gendarmerie General Command during the failed coup attempt of July 15, 2016, state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Friday.
The trial had resumed on June 14, following a several months-long break over the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Eighty six defendants were convicted to life in prison without parole, called an “aggravated life sentence” in Turkish law, over charges of attempting to destroy the constitutional order, while another 35 were convicted to life in prison.
Among the 86 defendants was former colonel Erkan Öktem, who was sentenced to nine additional counts of life in prison without parole for the first degree murder of nine people, and another 20 years in prison for the attempted murder of Turgut Aslan, the anti-terror department director of Turkish police forces at the time, AA said.
Another 14 defendants were sentenced to nine counts of life without parole each for the first degree murder of eight people and attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.
Seven defendants were sentenced to 15 years in prison and another 11 to 12 years and six months in prison for aiding and abetting the coup attempt.
Thirty three defendants sentenced to life without parole were also sentenced to a separate 30 years in prison for abduction and deprivation of freedom. Six others were sentenced to an additional 25 years on the same charges.
Mevlüt Yılmaz, who was not part of Turkey’s armed forces, was convicted of membership of an armed terrorist organisation over accusations of running the Gendarmerie branch of the putschists, and sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Another 20 defendants were convicted of membership of an armed terrorist organisation, and sentenced to prison for between seven and 12 years in prison. Two defendants were convicted of membership of a terrorist organisation, and sentenced to six years and three months in prison.
Abdullah Köksal, the head judge in the case, said the court had determined that FETÖ, or Fethullahist Terrorist Organisation, the name Turkey uses for the followers of U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen, had organized and carried out the coup attempt “with domestic and foreign support.”
Turkey has been accusing Gülen of having orchestrated the attempt, as well as other attempts to overthrow the government including a major corruption probe in 2013, and maintains that the cleric placed his followers in key positions in Turkey, including the judiciary, police, and armed forces. Gülen, who lives in the United States under self-imposed exile, strongly denies the accusations.
The court separated the cases of 10 defendants who had not showed up to court, and dismissed charges against two defendants who died before the trial was completed. Forty six defendants were acquitted.
Two hundred and forty eight people died on the night of the attempted coup, and another 2,196 people were wounded. In the government crackdown following the attempt, more than 100,000 public servants were dismissed and thousands of people were arrested over suspected ties to Gülen.