Turkey sentences over 30 to life terms over involvement in 2016 failed coup

A Turkish court on Wednesday sentenced over 30 people, including former soldiers attached to the presidential guard regiment, to life imprisonment over their involvement in the failed coup attempt of 2016, state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

The 497 defendants in the case had been on trial since 2017 over activities at the presidential guard regiment on the night of the failed putsch, including the occupation of state-run TRT news broadcaster, the agency said.

The trial is one of hundreds against suspected members of a network led by Fethullah Gülen, a U.S. based cleric, who Ankara accuses of orchestrating the failed coup, a charge Gülen denies. 

The Turkish government has pursueda post-coup crackdown on the Gülen movement, which it designates as a terrorist organisation, imprisoning tens of thousands of people while dismissing 130,000 fired from their government jobs.

The Ankara court on Wednesday sentenced 32 defendants to life, including a former lieutenant colonel that forced the TRT anchorwoman to read out a statement on behalf of the coup-plotters.

Six of those sentenced to life in prison received aggravated life terms with no possibility of parole, the agency said.

One person was sentenced to 61 years in prison and 106 defendants in the case received terms ranging from six to 16 years on charges that include "membership in a terrorist organisation’’ and "aiding the violation of the constitutional order.’’

Other defendants were either acquitted or were not given prison terms, according to Anadolu.