63 Turkish military personnel given life sentences over alleged involvement in coup

A court in İstanbul on Friday handed down life sentences to 63 military personnel, including military cadets and officers who had previously been dismissed from their posts, for allegedly taking part in a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The military personnel were convicted of alleged involvement in the killing of at least six people, including one police officer, and the wounding of 42 others on a highway near İstanbul.

The same court also handed down aggravated life sentences to six former high-ranking military officers on charges of murder, membership in a terrorist organization and attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.  The court also gave life sentences to 57 military cadets for attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.

Meanwhile, 23 military officers were detained on Friday in 16 provinces across Turkey as part of a Hatay-based investigation targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement. The detentions came after the issuance of warrants by the Hayat Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office for 32 active duty military officers, including a colonel, a lieutenant colonel and a captain. Police are reportedly continuing to search for nine other military officers.

Also on Friday, Turkish police detained 18 people in Ankara province over alleged fraud in an exam police inspector candidates took in 2011. The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office claimed that inspector hopefuls allegedly involved with the Gülen movement had seen the test paper ahead of the exam. The statement said a police search was underway for three more suspects.

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 President Recep Tayyip 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.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. 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.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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