A Turkish court has sentenced dozens of people, including former soldiers affiliated with the president’s guard regiment, to life in prison on Wednesday for their involvement in the failed 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
A total of 497 defendants had been on trial since 2017 for trying to seize the military headquarters in Ankara, occupy the headquarters of the state broadcaster TRT and for forcing a TV host to read a statement on behalf of the coup plotters.
The massive lawsuit was one of hundreds of lawsuits against suspected members of a network led by US-based priest Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating the failed attempt. Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan, denies the allegations.
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The court on the outskirts of Ankara sentenced 32 defendants to life, including six who were given aggravated lives without the possibility of parole, Anadolu reported.
Among those sentenced to the aggravated life are a former lieutenant colonel who forced the anchor woman to read the statement, a former colonel accused of having given the order for the takeover of the TRT building and a former major who led a team that tried to take over the military headquarters, the agency said.
The court also sentenced one person to 61 years in prison, while 106 defendants received terms ranging from six to 16 years. Other defendants were either acquitted or did not receive prison sentences, Anadolu said.
On July 15, 2016, factions within the Turkish military used tanks, warplanes and helicopters in an attempt to overthrow Erdogan. Fighter jets bombed parliament and elsewhere in Turkey’s capital. After following a call from the president, thousands took to the streets to stop the coup.
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A total of 251 people were killed and about 2,200 others were injured. About 35 alleged coup plotters were also killed.
The government has designated Gulen’s network as a terrorist group, another claim he denies. He lives in the United States.