Turkish courts give life sentences to 232 people over coup making and alleged Gülen links

Turkish courts have sentenced 332 people to prison sentences, including 232 people who were sentenced to life in prison so far over their alleged attendance in coup making and their alleged links to the Gülen movement as part of the government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting the movement.

According to a report by state-run Anadolu news agency on Wednesday, Turkish courts, which are under direct control of the despotic rule of Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have ruled on 42 coup cases opened against the alleged coup maker soldiers and the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

The report said that 100,993 court cases were opened by Turkish prosecutors since the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 against the alleged members of the Gülen movement.

Anadolu reported that “After the completion of the investigations, the suspects, including those military officers who directed the coup attempt, have been accounted before the courts across Turkey. So far, 42 of the court cases opened over coup attempt have been completed and the verdicts about 502 people were given by the courts.”

According to the report, 81 people were sentenced to life in prison without parole. It was also reported that 32 of the suspects were given 4 life sentences and 4 suspects were given 3 life sentences without parole. In total, the courts have given 117 suspects aggravated life imprisonment while 100 suspects were given prison sentences between 1 year and 2 months to 20 years. The courts have rejected to try 57 people and decided to release 113 people after the trials.

Meanwhile, an İstanbul court on Wednesday sentenced 15 people to life in prison for attempting to take over the İstanbul headquarters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) during the July 2016 coup attempt. The İstanbul 23rd High Criminal Court ordered aggravated life sentences for 4 of the 15 people, while the rest got simple life sentences.

Separately, 42 more people were convicted and sentenced to jail on Wednesday over alleged membership to the Gülen movement.

The 2nd High Criminal Court in the northwestern Çanakkale province handed down life sentences to 2 former commanders, one of them responsible for the Çanakkale (Dardanelles) Strait.

In the Black Sea province of Samsun, 6 people in three separate hearings received sentences of over 6 years apiece from the 3rd High Criminal Court for being alleged members of the Gülen movement.

A High Criminal Court in the central Kırşehir province has also handed down jail terms to 11 former police officers and two teachers ranging from 6 to 15 years. In the southern Kahramanmaraş province, one person was sentenced to over 6 years in prison over his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

A high criminal court in the Black Sea province of Kastamonu gave 15 former police officers jail terms ranging from 6 to 7 years, while another person in the same trial received 1 year and 6 months with same charges.

Also in Kastamonu, three former court employees were handed jail terms of over 6 years in prison while in the southern Hatay province, a person who allegedly confessed that she was using Bylock was convicted and given a term of over 4 years in prison.

A comprehensive report by Stockholm Center for Freedom (SCF) titled “Turkey’s descent into arbitrariness: The end of rule of law” provides detailed information on how the rule of law has lost meaning in Turkish context, confirming the effective collapse of all domestic judicial and administrative remedies available for Turkish citizens who lodge complaints on rights violations.

In addition to jailing thousands of judges and prosecutors, Turkey has also imprisoned hundreds of human rights defenders and lawyers, making extremely difficult for detainees to access to a lawyer in violation of a due process and fair trial protections under the Turkish Code on Criminal Procedures.

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 Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

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. Turkey’s Interior Minister announced on December 12, 2017 that 55,665  people have been arrested. Previously, 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.

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