Turkish court gives life sentences to over two dozen over 2016 botched putsch
Iran Press TV
Wed Jul 18, 2018 01:59PM
A court in Turkey has handed down aggravated life sentences to more than two dozen people on charges of involvement in the failed July 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which the Ankara government accuses to have been masterminded by US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Judicial sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Ankara's 20th High Criminal Court passed the rulings against 30 military officers and former Brigadier General Sadik Koroglu on Tuesday. They were all staff members at the Gendarme Schools Command headquarters in the capital.
The court also ordered a prison term of 26 years and eight months for Lieutenant Colonel Fazil Ergun for a homicide attempt, and another 13 years and six months in prison for First Lieutenant Ozkan Darendeli "for restricting personal freedom."
Ergun was reportedly one of two officers, who opened fire on anti-coup officers confronting them at the Gendarme Schools Command headquarters.
US pastor Brunson may be released
Meanwhile, an American pastor, who is on trial in Turkey on terrorism and espionage charges, could be freed on July 18 when the final three prosecution witnesses are due to be heard.
Andrew Brunson, a Christian pastor from North Carolina, was arrested in December 2016 and later indicted on charges of having links with Gulen movement as well as Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) militant group. Brunson has denied the charges, calling them "shameful and disgusting."
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly called for the pastor's release. Last month, the US Senate passed a bill, including a measure that prohibits Turkey's acquisition of F-35 all-weather stealth multirole jet fighters because of Brunson's imprisonment and Ankara's planned purchase of Russian-made S-400 air defense missile systems.
During the botched putsch, a faction of the Turkish military declared that it had seized control of the country and the government of Erdogan was no more in charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed a few hours later.
Ankara has since accused Gulen of having orchestrated the coup. The opposition figure is also accused of being behind a long-running campaign to topple the government via infiltrating the country's institutions, particularly the army, police and the judiciary.
Gulen has denounced the "despicable putsch" and reiterated that he had no role in it.
"Accusations against me related to the coup attempt are baseless and politically-motivated slanders," he said in a statement.
The 77-year-old cleric has also called on Ankara to end its "witch hunt" of his followers, a move he says is aimed at "weeding out anyone it deems disloyal to President Erdogan and his regime."
Turkish officials have frequently called on their US counterparts to extradite Gulen, but their demands have not been taken heed of.
Turkey, which remains in a state of emergency since the coup, has been engaged in suppressing the media and opposition groups suspected to have played a role in the failed coup.
Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the failed coup. More than 110,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists, have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.
The international community and rights groups have been highly critical of the Turkish president over the massive dismissals and the crackdown.
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