62 former military cadets indicted on coup charges 5.5 years after coup attempt

Turkish prosecutors have indicted 62 former military cadets on charges of attempting to overturn the constitutional order due to their alleged role in a failed coup on July 15, 2016, a platform representing the cadets has announced.

The military cadets, who are from the now-closed Kuleli Military School, were between the ages of 14 and 18 at the time of the coup. They were arrested on the night of the coup attempt, sent to Maltepe Prison in İstanbul and released on July 30, 2016.

The cadets’ platform announced on Twitter on Monday that the cadets will stand trial at a juvenile court, while posting some parts from the indictment. The indictment refers to the cadets as the “children who were pushed into a crime.”

Other charges include causing injury, attempting to topple the government of Turkey and membership in a terrorist organization.

A total of 259 other military cadets were detained on coup charges on July 16, 2016 and were arrested four days later. The cadets were indicted a year after they were put in pretrial detention, and their trial was concluded in May 2018. One hundred seventy-eight of the cadets were given life sentences on charges of attempting to overturn the constitutional order and attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and parliament by use of force as well as membership in a terrorist organization.

The cadets say they didn’t know a coup attempt was underway and were acting on orders from their superiors, who told them there was a terrorist attack.

The military coup attempt killed 251 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the abortive putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the faith-based Gülen movement. The movement strongly denies any involvement.

In the meantime, Turkish prosecutors issued detention warrants for 148 people including former military officers, police officers, teachers and nurses due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Raids were being conducted on dozens of locations across Turkey on Tuesday as part of the investigations pursued by the Ankara and Balıkesir chief public prosecutors’ offices to detain the suspects.

Following the abortive putsch, the Turkish government declared a state of emergency and carried out a massive purge of state institutions under the pretext of an anti-coup fight. More than 130,000 public servants were summarily removed from their jobs for alleged membership in or relationships with “terrorist organizations” by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny.

A total of 319,587 people have been detained and 99,962 arrested in operations against supporters of the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced in November.

In addition to the thousands who were jailed, scores of other Gülen movement followers had to flee Turkey to avoid the government crackdown.

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