Turkish courts sentence 604 military personnel to prison over alleged coup involvement in Ankara

More than 600 military members who were convicted in Turkey’s capital of Ankara of involvement in a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 have been handed down prison sentences ranging from 10 years to aggravated life without the possibility of parole since February 2017, according to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.

The report on Sunday said 13 coup trials have been concluded since Feb. 6, 2017, when the first alleged coup-plotter appeared before a judge in Ankara. Eighteen alleged putschists were given aggravated life sentences by Ankara’s 14th High Criminal Court for the premeditated murder of noncommissioned officer Ömer Halisdemir.

At the 13th High Criminal Court, 27 military officers received aggravated life sentences, while 20 others were sentenced to life in prison over their alleged roles in incidents at the 58th Artillery Regiment Command in Ankara’s Polatlı district during the coup bid.

Two hundred seventeen people received sentences of between 12 and 20 years for aiding the in the violation of the constitution. Sixty-four others were released by the court.

Also, 52 military personnel who manned rogue army tanks on the streets of the capital were tried at the 18th High Criminal Court, where 11 defendants were given aggravated life sentences, 27 life sentences and 14 various prison terms. Eleven soldiers who were performing their military service were released by the court.

In a case involving the detention of presidential Secretary General Fahri Kasırga during the coup attempt, the 13th High Criminal Court gave 18 military officers aggravated life sentences plus 12 years, while five received life sentences plus 10 years. Col. Muhsin Kutsi Barış, a former commander of the Presidential Guard Regiment, was also given 12 years in prison at the same hearing.

Separately, 13 military personnel were given aggravated life sentences, while 15 others were given life sentences by the 13th  High Criminal Court for their alleged activities at the Türk Telekom building in Ankara’s Ulus district. One person was also released.

For their alleged actions at the Coast Guard Command, 23 military members were given life sentences, while two others were handed down aggravated life sentences by the 17th High Criminal Court. Three others were released.

Ankara’s 14th High Criminal Court sentenced 13 people, including eight former soldiers and five civilians, to aggravated life for trying to cut the signal feed of Turkish satellite operator TURKSAT during the coup attempt.

An Ankara court also sentenced 11 suspects to aggravated life and four others to six years in prison for alleged membership in the Gülen movement.

In the kidnapping case of retired Gen. Kamil Başoğlu, the former head of the Doctrine Command, the 17th High Criminal Court gave life sentences to five military personnel, and two others received nine-year sentences.

Four military personnel, including ex-squadron leaders and a former lieutenant, who ran over civilians with tanks were given aggravated life sentences from the 20th High Criminal Court.

A total of 64 Turkish Military Academy students were given life sentences, including four aggravated life sentences, by the 17th High Criminal Court, which also released 100 others for having no intention of committing a crime.

Also, the 13th High Criminal Court gave 22 military members life sentences for alleged activities at the Special Air Regiment, while 11 were handed down 12 additional years in prison for deprivation of liberty.

Separately, 47 military personnel, including two rear admirals, were sentenced to aggravated life for their alleged activities at the Turkish Naval Forces Command, while 18 others were given life sentences.

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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