A Turkish court on Thursday, November 26 sentenced hundreds of people to life for their alleged involvement in the 2016 coup plot against president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The convicted include army officers, pilots and civilians.
More than 470 people were tried for their alleged involvement in a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 to overthrow Erdogan out of which the court found 337 guilty. They were accused of seizing public institutions and crucial army installations such as Akini Airbase from where bombings were carried out at government buildings and an attempt was made on Erdogan’s life during which at least 250 people were killed and thousands were injured.
The then defense minister Hulusi Akar and other commanders were held captive for several hours. Turkey had declared an emergency post the coup attempt and carried out severe repressive acts against supposed plotters targeting some of the opposition figures.
According to Anadolu Agency, more than 292,000 people were arrested and more than 150,000 of government employees were sacked or suspended for their alleged links with anti-Erdogan groups and alleged terror groups. More than 20,000 were expelled from the army allegedly to root out the Gülen network from all state institutions.
Erdogan blamed the supporters of a US-based cleric Fethullah Gülen for the attempted coup. However, he denied any involvement. Several army officers who allegedly led the coup have already been sentenced to rigorous life sentences.
On Thursday, the court granted 15 army officials and four civilian imams 79 aggravated life sentences, the severest sentence in Turkey. This means they will never get parole. So far, around 2,500 people have been given life sentences in the case by different courts in Turkey.
Human right groups and opposition have claimed that the government in Turkey used the coup attempt to carry out massive repression against opposition forces and activists including the Kurdish minorities.