Turkish gov’t sentences 1,655 people including 60 generals to life in prison over alleged role in July 15 coup bid

At least 200 out of 289 trials of alleged putschists in Turkey in the aftermath of a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 have been completed, with 2,453 defendants sentenced to lengthy prison terms including 1,655 life sentences.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency on Thursday, 765 defendants were given aggravated life sentences without the possibility of parole, including 31 defendants who were given four aggravated life sentences and four defendants who were given three aggravated life sentences each.

Among those who were given aggravated life were 50 generals, 475 officers, 107 noncommissioned officers, 39 expert sergeants, a police chief, two policemen and 10 civilians.

While the courts ruled for life imprisonment for 890 defendants, 798 defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one year, two months to 20 years. According to the report, 10 generals, 210 officers, 92 noncommissioned officers, 120 expert sergeants and 11 policemen were sentenced to life imprisonment.

According to the official account, 8,651 officers took part in the coup, corresponding to 1,5 percent of the total military personnel in the Turkish Armed Forces. Of those 1,761 were conscripts, 1,214 were military cadets and 5,761 were officers and noncommissioned officers.

However, even these numbers do not reflect the actual mobilization that was seen on the ground during the coup attempt. Given the fact that 168 generals and thousands of officers have been tried on coup charges, the military experts find it odd that such an insignificant number of troops took part in the coup attempt. It is estimated that there are 200,00 troops under the command of these generals who are charged with the attempt.

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 organisation,” 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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