A court on Thursday handed down verdicts to several people, among more than 220 suspects, in one of the biggest trials relating to the deadly July 15, 2016 failed coup.
A Turkish court on Thursday handed down verdicts to several people, among more than 220 suspects, in one of the biggest trials relating to the deadly July 15 2016 failed coup.
Several senior military officers, including former Turkish Air Force commander Akin Ozturk and Ali Yazici who was President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's military aide, were handed 141 life sentences each over their involvement in the coup attempt.
The sentencing is still under way.
The 141 life sentences awarded to Ozturk and his 16 accomplices include 139 terms for killing or ordering the killing of 139 innocent citizens, one for their attempt to overthrow constitutional order and one for ordering the murder of the president.
They were also accused of ordering and planning the bombing of Ankara and the parliament.
The failed putsch of July 15, 2016 left 251 people dead and nearly 2,200 injured.
Separating Gulen's case
The court ordered the prosecution to separate the file of Fetullah Gulen and 13 other top masterminds behind the failed coup attempt as they were not in attendance.
Turkey has consistently pointed to FETO for being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.
The trial of 224 suspects, including more than two dozen former generals, began in May 2017 in the country's largest courtroom inside a prison complex in Sincan, Ankara.
The space was purpose-built to hear coup-related trials and has room for 1,558 people.
Among those standing trial is Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since the late 1990s and denies the charges against him. Turkey is trying to secure his extradition and has raised the issue on several occasions with the US.
Charges and sentencing
The charges against the main suspects, some of whom are now convicted, include "violating the constitution", "using coercion and violence in an attempt to overthrow" parliament and the Turkish government, "martyring 250 citizens" and "attempting to kill 2,735 citizens".
The prosecutor last month sought 252 aggravated – without parole – life sentences against nearly 40 suspects, local media reported. Such sentences carry harsher prison conditions.
The suspects also each face 55,880 years in jail on the charge of injuring 2,558 civilians and 177 security personnel.
Since July 2016, tens of thousands of people have been arrested over suspected links to the coup under a two-year state of emergency which ended in 2018.
The police continue to investigate and raid suspects nationwide raids. Public prosecutors continue to issue detention warrants for suspects over Gulen ties.
Nearly 290 coup-linked court cases have been launched, 261 of which ended with 3,239 defendants convicted, according to the justice ministry.
At least 26 generals were among those on trial, including Ozturk and Mehmet Disli, the brother of Saban Disli, who since September has served as Turkey's ambassador to the Netherlands.
Another suspect Lieutenant Colonel Levent Turkkan, who was the aide to then-chief of staff general Hulusi Akar. Akar was appointed defence minister in July 2018.
Of the suspects, 176 are in jail while 35 have been freed pending trial and 13 suspects including Gulen are still sought for arrest, according to Anadolu Agency.
The prosecutor in May requested 12 unnamed suspects be acquitted and that the case of the 13 fugitives be separated from the main coup ringleaders' trial.
Dozens of those on trial are accused of being members of the "Peace At Home Council", the name the plotters apparently gave themselves on the night of the coup attempt.