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Iran Press TV

Turkish courts give life sentences to some 2,000 over 2016 botched putsch

Iran Press TV

Tue Dec 18, 2018 01:45PM

Courts in Turkey have sentenced nearly 2,000 people to life in prison since the failed July 2016 coup attempt, which the Ankara government asserts to have been masterminded by US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Turkey's official Anadolu news agency reported on Tuesday that some 1,934 suspects have been told by the courts that they will spend the rest of their life in jail.

Of these, 978 people were jailed for life, while 956 were sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment, which has replaced the death penalty in Turkey and carries harsher conditions than normal life imprisonment convictions.

The report further noted that a total of 239 cases out of 289, which were opened after the failed coup have been closed. The remaining 50 ones, include 18 in the capital Ankara and nine in the country's largest city of Istanbul.

More than 3,050 people in all have been convicted over links to Gulen, with 1,123 given different jail sentences ranging from over a year to 20 years in prison.

Gulen's nephew sentenced to seven-and-a-half years behind bars

Separately, Gulen's nephew Selman Gulen was sentenced to seven years and six months in jail on Tuesday on charges of being a "member of an armed terrorist organization."

Kutbettin Gulen, brother of the Turkish Muslim preacher now living in Pennsylvania in the United States, was jailed for 10 years and six months on the same charge in October.

During the 2016 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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