23 suspects sentenced to life imprisonment in 1st verdict of Turkey’s controversial coup trial

Twenty-three suspects have been sentenced to life imprisonment over alleged involvement in controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

It was reported that Ankara’s 13th High Criminal Court has sentenced 18 suspects to aggravated life imprisonment, and 12 years in prison, while five others were sentenced to life and 10 years in jail.

Also, Ankara’s 17th High Criminal Court has sentenced a former commander with the Presidential Guard Regiment, Col. Muhsin Kutsi Barış to 12 years in prison in a case allegedyly involving the detention of Presidential Secretary General Fahri Kasırga during the controversial July 15 coup attempt. Two private soldiers have been acquitted in the case, the source added.

These sentences are reportedly the first verdicts announced in Ankara in the trial of the controversial coup attempt’s alleged suspects which began on May 22. Among the 221 defendants is Fetullah Gülen, who will be tried in absentia. All but 12 of the suspects are members of the military, including a general, three lieutenant generals, four major generals, 16 brigadier generals and three rear admirals.

Prominent defendants include Ali Yazıcı, the former military aide to Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan; Levent Türkkan, Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar’s ex-aide; and Muhammet Uslu, a former official in the prime minister’s private office.

The indictment — accepted by the 17th High Criminal Court on March 8 — outlined the “attempt to overthrow the democratic constitutional order with 35 planes, 37 helicopters, 246 armored vehicles and around 4,000 light weapons.” The suspects are also facing charges of attempting to overthrow the parliament, attempting to overthrow the government, attempting to assassinate the president, murdering 250 people and attempting to murder 2,735 people.

Also, on Thursday, detention warrants were issued for a total of 101 teachers and principals in İstanbul, targeting alleged followers of the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup on July 15, 2016, the t24 news website reported.

Nine of the teachers and principals have been suspended, and 94 were fired in a purge carried out by the government following the coup attempt.

Seventy-four of the 101 have been detained and taken to İstanbul police headquarters, while the search for the other 27 continues.

Police has also detained 22 people, including some police officers who were dismissed by government decrees in the aftermath of the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2017, in İzmir province on Thursday over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. Also in Isparta and Afyonkarahisar provinces 14 people and 17 people, respectively, were detained by police on Thursday with the same accusations.

The Turkish government calls the Gülen movement, which promotes educational activities and interreligious dialogue across the world, an “armed terrorist organization” despite the fact that the movement has not been involved in any acts of violence.

Immediately after the failed coup attempt on July 15, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah 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.

At least 161,751 people were detained or investigated and 50,334 people were arrested in Turkey in the framework of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement since the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to statistics reported by state-run Anadolu news agency by basing on information taken from the officials from Turkey’s Justice Minsitry on June 13.

June 15, 2017

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