Turkish court sentences 84 defendants to aggravated life over their alleged role in coup bid

A Turkish court on Thursday sentenced 84 defendants to aggravated life imprisonment in a major case concerning a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that centered around deadly confrontations on one of İstanbul’s bridges.

Thirty-four people were killed on the Bosporus Bridge on the night of the coup, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s advertising executive Erol Olçok and his son Abdullah Tayyip Olçok.

A total of 133 suspects held in custody were at Thursday’s hearing at the İstanbul 25th High Criminal Court. Seventy-two of the defendants were given aggravated life sentences for allegedly trying to overthrow the constitutional order, while 12 others were given the same sentence for their alleged role in death of Olçok and his son. The remaining suspects were sentenced to jail terms of 15 to 17 years.

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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