Mother fears military cadets arrested on coup charges will be killed in prison

The mother of one of the military cadets who were jailed on coup charges in the aftermath of a failed military coup in July 2016 has said her son and the other jailed cadets would be killed in prison.

Melek Çetinkaya, the mother of Furkan Çetinkaya, one of the cadets at the Turkish Air Force Academy, spoke to Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a deputy from the Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) and a human rights activist, for a Periscope broadcast in the Turkish Parliament on Thursday. Çetinkaya said the military cadets were not killed on the night of the coup attempt nor during their trials, but she fears they will be murdered while in prison.

A total of 259 military cadets were detained on coup charges on July 16, 2016 and were arrested four days later. The cadets were indicted one year after they were sent to jail, 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 had no information about a coup attempt unfolding and were acting on orders from their superiors, who told them there was a terrorist attack.

“I am telling the parents of the cadets. Don’t expect your children to come out of prison alive. Let alone their release or acquittal, don’t expect them to come out alive because the state is willing to sacrifice our children. I have just come to understand this,” said the mother.

Uncertainty surrounding ballistics tests on the weapons used in the murder of civilians and troops still lingers on. The paramilitary groups that took part in the clashes and that later appeared in various videos taken on the night of the coup have not been identified, and how they were organized and mobilized still remains a mystery. There are also reports that Turkish police distributed high-caliber weapons to civilians on the night of the coup.

The sister of second-year air force cadet Murat Tekin recently claimed her brother’s throat was slashed by an angry mob on the night of the coup attempt, backing up her allegation with an autopsy report.

Graphic video footage showing a soldier lying on the Bosporus Bridge in a pool of blood was widely circulated on social media in the aftermath of the coup attempt. While many said the soldier’s throat was slit because of his involvement in the coup, pro-government media outlets and social media users either refused to accept the allegation or claimed that the video and accompanying images were from a separate terrorist explosion.

Nordic Monitor has revealed that Turkish investigators neither conducted autopsies on victims nor tested suspects for gunshot residue in the murder of 10 civilians during events that transpired during the 2016 coup attempt in front of the Gendarmerie Forces Command headquarters. 

The scandalous revelation came when a Turkish court started conducting hearings into events that occurred in and around the building of the Gendarmerie Forces Command in the Beştepe neighborhood. According to court transcripts obtained by Nordic Monitor, Lt. Col. Muharrem Demirkale, an intelligence officer who was assigned as an instructor at the Beştepe Gendarmerie Schools Command, testified during a hearing held on March 13, 2018 that the government did not order any autopsies for the people who died during the conflict.

In a report published shortly after the abortive putsch, the Stockholm Center for Freedom revealed that 54 people were reported to have lost their lives, most under suspicious circumstances and in lock-up.

The controversial military coup attempt killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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