Turkish gov’t seeks aggravated life sentences for 63 people over coup claims

Turkish prosecutors have been seeking aggravated life sentences for 63 military officers of participating in the controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016. The suspects have been accused over incidents at the Tuzla Orhanlı Tolls in İstanbul on the night of the coup bid.

At the 28th High Criminal Court in İstanbul’s Silivri district, the suspects stand accused of violating the constitutional order. Prosecutor Orhan Uzun requested, on the other hand, the release of two other suspects, Zafer Özbay and Suat Katar.

Also on Thursday, at least 46 people have been detained across Turkey over their alleged links to the Gülen movement. In northern province of Samsun, police detained 14 people as part of a probe into the alleged members of the Gülen movement by Samsun Chief Prosecutor’s Office.

Based in the central Aksaray province, 10 people were detained over the same allegations during the simultaneous raids were conducted in 10 provinces, including İstanbul, Ankara, Bursa, Isparta, Gaziantep, Erzurum, Trabzon, Afyonkarahisar and Mersin provinces.

In central Kayseri province 6 people were detained for allegedly providing financial support to the Bank Asya which was closed by Turkish government over its alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement.

Police raids based in southwestern Denizli province saw the detentions of 11 people on Thursday over their alleged links to the movement.

Another 2 people were detained in northwestern Edirne province as part of a probe into the alleged members of the Gülen movement by Edirne Chief Prosecutor’s Office. Also, in Erdemit district of northwestern Balıkesir province, 2 people were detained over the alleged links to the movement.

A man was also apprehended for being an alleged member of the Gülen movement  as he was trying to flee from Turkey in western Aydın province.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, a total of 40 people, mainly former military officers and military cadets, have been detained across Turkey for their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

At least 18 military officers were detained during Turkish security forces conducted simultaneous operations at 22 locations in Turkey’s 14 provinces, including Niğde, İstanbul, Ankara, Balıkesir, Şanlıurfa, Kayseri, Nevşehir, Diyarbakır, Giresun, Bursa, Karabük, Yalova, Hatay, and Kırıkkale. The detentions came after warrants were issued by the Niğde’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office for 22 people over their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

Meanwhile, in Turkey’s western province of Manisa, 8 people were detained over their alleged links to the  movement on Wednesday. The detentions came after Manisa Chief Prosecutor’s Office issued detention warrants for 10 people who were dismissed from military schools.

Later on the day, police also arrested 14 on-duty soldiers, including the commander of Zonguldak M Type Closed Prison, in a simultaneous operation against the alleged members of the Gülen movement in 12 provinces including Bartın and Zonguldak provinces.

Moreover, Alev Şahin, a Turkish architect who was fired from her job with a decree issued by the Turish government after a coup attempt in 2016, has been detained for “refusing to stand for the Turkish national anthem,” the Gerçek Gündem news portal reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, Şahin refused to stand up for the anthem played during a public demonstration in a square in Turkey’s Düzce province because she was staging a separate sit-in protest against his dismissal by the Turkish government on coup charges. Şahin was detained after organisers of the demonstration complained to police that she had refused to stand for the anthem and Düzce Chief Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into the incident.

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 Turkish autocratic President Recep Tayyip 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.

A total of 48,305 people were arrested by courts across Turkey in 2017 over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, said Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Dec. 2, 2018. “The number of detentions is nearly three times higher,” Soylu told a security meeting in İstanbul and claimed that “Even these figures are not enough to reveal the severity of the issue.”

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