Turkish court gives aggravated life sentences to 116 cadets over their alleged role in coup bid

A high criminal court in İstanbul on Friday handed down aggravated life sentences to three Turkish military officers and 116 cadets from the Air Force Academy over their alleged role in a controversial coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

The defendants were convicted of involvement in incidents that took place in İstanbul’s Sultanbeyli district and at the Turkish Mehmetcik Foundation on the night of the coup bid.

The 28th High Criminal Court, holding proceedings on the grounds of Silivri Prison in İstanbul, rendered its verdict in the case involving three high-ranking military officers and 116 air force cadets on the charge of violating the country’s constitution.

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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