Turkish court gives aggravated life sentences to 31 military members over coup bid

A Turkish court on Tuesday handed down aggravated life sentences to 31 military members in a trial concerning the Beytepe Gendermarie Schools Command in Ankara over their alleged role in a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, the Ankara 20th High Criminal Court issued verdicts for 316 defendants. Those who were given aggravated life sentence include Brig. Gen. Sadık Köroğlu, who was the former commander of the Gendermarie Schools. The files of 280 defendants were reportedly withdrawn for a separate trial.

Aggravated life sentences were given to Brig. Gen. Köroğlu, Col. Özkan Doğanay, Lt. Cols. Hacı Akyel and Efkan Güler, Maj. Tarık Görener and officers Mehmet Bakan, Mehmet Özoğul, Fazıl Ergün, Cemil Çetin, Ramazan Atım, Coşkun Kazankaya, Abdullah Serdar Acar, Okan Yalçın, Ramazan Akkuş, İslam Kılıç, Haldün Zülkadiroğlu, Emrah Coşkunsu, Adem Yaşar, Özkan Darendeli, İdris Kaya, Onur Demirel, Osman Küt, Yusuf Yiğit, Dilaver Bilgi, Orhan Çetin, Nurettin Özdoğan, Fatih Çelik, Bahri Barış Cordan, Arif Kalkan, Murat Tamer and Haydar Hacıpaşalıoğlu.

Moreover, Fazıl Ergün was given 26 years, eight months in prison on charges of attempted murder, and Özkan Darendeli was given 13 years, six months on charges of deprivation of freedom.

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 about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. 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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