100 acquitted, 64 given life sentences in military academy coup trial in Turkey

An Ankara court has ruled for the acquittal of 100 suspects while handing down life sentences to 60 others and aggravated life sentences to four suspects in a trial concerning incidents that took place at the Turkish military academy in Ankara on the night of a failed coup attempt in July 2016.

The trial, which was heard by the Ankara 17th High Criminal Court, was concluded on Wednesday. Among the 164 suspects indicted, 156 were military cadets while eight were high-ranking officers. They were facing coup charges as well as attempting to destroy the constitutional order.

Erdoğan Kurt, Volkan Kenci, Salim Başaran and Kenan Çakar, who were given aggravated life sentences, were convicted for attempting to overthrow the constitutional order by force.

Separately, 13 people were convicted and sentenced on Wednesday across Turkey for allegedly being members of the Gülen movement. In the Black Sea province of Kastamonu, the court handed down jail terms, ranging from 1 year and 6 months to 10 years and 6 months, to 8 convicts over their allege membership to the Gülen movement. Former police officers, teachers and civil servants were among the convicts.

In western İzmir province, the 13rd High Criminal court has sentenced former judge Erdem Çağan to 6 years and 8 months in prison on Wednesday over the same charge.

In western Aydın province, Hasan Hüseyin Özçelik, was sentenced to 8 years and 8 months in prison.

Another criminal high court in southern Adana province sentenced Seyit Mehmet Mavuş to 7 years and 6 months in jail, and handed down the same term to teacher Şahin Demirci over the same charge.

In Rize, a Black Sea province, a criminal high court sentenced Ramazan S. on Wednesday to 7 years and 6 months in jail for being an alleged member of the movement.

An Antalya court sentenced a chemistry teacher, identified as A.S., to 10 years in jail on charges of membership to the Gülen movement. A.S., under pretrial arrest for 22 months, appeared before the court for her final hearing.

Accused of leading the movement’s women’s network in Antalya, A.S. refused allegations asking for her release. The court in charge turned down the request and sentenced A.S. to 10 years in prison. A.S. was a chemistry teacher at a movement-linked prep school in Antalya until it was shuttered by the government in the aftermath of the July 15, 2016 failed coup.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, on December 13, 2017, The Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 2, 2018. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “Even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.” (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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