A Turkish court handed out aggravated life sentences to 72 former soldiers for trying to overthrow the constitutional order. Twelve of them were also handed additional sentences for the murder of civilians on Istanbul's July 15 Martyrs' bridge.

The Bosphorus Bridge was renamed as the July 15 Martyrs' Bridge following the failed coup in July 2016.
The Bosphorus Bridge was renamed as the July 15 Martyrs' Bridge following the failed coup in July 2016. ( AA )

A Turkish court on Thursday sentenced 72 people to aggravated life imprisonment in a major case concerning the 2016 defeated coup and centred around deadly confrontations on one of Istanbul’s major bridges.

The night of the coup bid by the Fetullah Terrorist Organisation (FETO), 34 people were killed on the July 15 Martyrs' Bridge – then called the Bosphorus Bridge – including prominent advertiser Erol Olcok and his son Abdullah Tayyip Olcok.

A total of 143 defendants appeared on Thursday’s hearing in Istanbul’s 25th Criminal Court, according to judicial sources who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media.

During the hearing, 72 of the former soldiers were handed aggravated life sentences for trying to overthrow the constitutional order. Twelve of them were also handed additional sentences for the murder of civilians on Istanbul's July 15 Martyrs' bridge.

Aggravated life imprisonment lasts until the death of the convict and is enforced under the strict security regime measures as defined in law and legislation. There is no possibility of parole.

The remaining former soldiers were sentenced to jail terms of  between15 and 17 years, the sources added.

Deadly night on bridge

Around 2200 pm local time (1900GMT) on the night of the coup attempt, the July 15 Martyrs' Bridge was blocked by rogue soldiers.

Incidents on the bridge were among the deadliest attacks carried out by pro-coup forces.

FETO, led by US-based cleric Fetullah Gulen, orchestrated the coup attempt, which left at least 251 people killed and around 2,200 others wounded.

The government also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.