Top court annuls life sentences given to 37 military cadets on coup charges

Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals has annulled life sentences handed down to 37 military cadets on charges of attempting to destroy the constitutional order due to their alleged role in a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, Turkish Minute reported.

The military cadets, who took part in raids on the buildings of Turkish state broadcaster TRT and Digiturk, a satellite television provider, on the night of the coup attempt were given the life sentences by the İstanbul 24th High Criminal Court. They were approved by a regional appeals court in January 2018.

The Supreme Court of Appeals concluded review of the cadets’ appeals on Monday and ruled that the cadets should be retried on charges of assisting the crime of violation of the constitution, which requires a lesser sentence.

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 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 had no information about a coup attempt unfolding 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 Gülen movement. The movement strongly denies any involvement.

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