Twenty-three suspects have been sentenced to life imprisonment over involvement in last July's deadly coup attempt in Turkey, a judicial source said Thursday.
Ankara's 13th High Criminal Court sentenced 18 suspects to aggravated life imprisonment, and 12 years in prison, while five others were sentenced to life and 10 years in prison, the source said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.
Meanwhile, the 17th High Criminal Court sentenced a former commander with the Presidential Guard Regiment, Colonel Muhsin Kutsi Baris, to 12 years in prison in a case involving the detention of Presidential Secretary General Fahri Kasirga during the July 15 coup attempt.
Two privates have been acquitted in the case, the source added.
Thursday's sentences are the first verdicts announced in the capital Ankara in the trial of the main coup bid suspects which began on May 22.
Among the 221 defendants is Fethullah Gulen, who will be tried in absentia. US-based Gulen and his organisation, known in Turkey as FETO (Fethullah Terrorist Organisation), have been accused of orchestrating the attempted putsch in July 2016, which left 250 people dead and nearly 2,200 injured.
All but 12 of the suspects are members of the military, including a general, three lieutenant generals, four major generals, 16 brigadier generals and three rear admirals.
Prominent defendants include Ali Yazici, the former military aide to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan; Levent Turkkan, Chief of General Staff General Hulusi Akar’s ex-aide; and Muhammet Uslu, a former official in the prime minister’s private office.
The indictment – accepted by the 17th High Criminal Court on March 8 – outlined the “attempt to overthrow the democratic constitutional order by treasonous FETO members with 35 planes, 37 helicopters, 246 armoured vehicles and around 4,000 light weapons."
The suspects are also facing charges of attempting to overthrow the parliament, attempting to overthrow the government, attempting to assassinate the president, murdering 250 people and attempting to murder 2,735 people.