Turkish courts sentence 1,760 defendants to life over their alleged role in coup attempt

Turkish courts have sentenced a total of 2,619 defendants to lengthy prison terms, including life sentences for 1,760 of them, in 204 out of 286 court cases opened against the suspects over their alleged roles in a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to data compiled by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency

Following the coup attempt in 2016, Turkish prosecutors launched more than 100,000 investigations. After their completion, 286 court cases were opened by prosecutors to try the alleged coup plotters, of which 204 have thus far been concluded.

In these finalized cases, 803 defendants were given aggravated life sentences, while 31 were sentenced to four aggravated life sentences and four defendants to three aggravated life sentences. The courts have also given life sentences to 957 defendants, while 859 have been given prison sentences ranging from from one year, two months to 20 years.

Among those who were given aggravated life sentences are more than 50 generals, in excess of 400 lower-ranking military officers, a number of noncommissioned officers, specialized sergeants, expert soldiers, military school cadets, engineers, police officers and civilians.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

“Legal proceedings have been carried out against 445,000 members of this organization,” Turkey’s pro-government Islamist news agency İLKHA quoted Turkish Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Ömer Faruk Aydıner as saying.

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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