Court releases 14 more cadets convicted on coup charges

An İstanbul court has released pending retrial 14 more military cadets who had been convicted on coup charges and sentenced to life in prison due to their alleged role in a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, the Bold Medya News website reported.

The release of the former cadets from the Balıkesir Sergeant Academy was based on a recent ruling from the Supreme Court of Appeals that overturned their sentences.

The military cadets were indicted on coup charges for allegedly raiding a police station in Istanbul on the night of the coup. The cadets testified they had no idea a coup was unfolding and that they were just acting under orders to defend the police against a terrorist attack.

Fifty-nine cadets from the Balıkesir military academy were sent to İstanbul for an internship on July 10, 2016. At around 9:00 p.m. on July 15 the students were taken from their barracks and informed that a terrorist attack had taken place and that the police needed additional support from the army.

Dozens of other military cadets who were sentenced to life on coup charges have been released for retrial in recent months after the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned their sentences. The cadets had been in prison for about six years.

Immediately after the coup attempt, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government pinned the blame on the faith-based Gülen movement. The movement strongly denies any involvement.

A documentary telling the stories of military cadets in Turkey, hundreds of whom were unjustly convicted due to their alleged involvement in the failed coup in 2016, premiered on YouTube several days before the sixth anniversary of the coup attempt, drawing more than 1 million viewers.

Following the abortive putsch, 16,409 military cadets were expelled from their academies by emergency decree-laws subject to neither judicial nor parliamentary scrutiny, and 355 of them were given life sentences, with some of them overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeals, according to figures revealed at the end of the video.

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