ANKARA, Turkey (AP) – A Turkish court on Wednesday sentenced dozens of people, including former members of the presidential guard, to life imprisonment for their role in the failed 2016 coup attempt against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. reported the state agency Anadolu.
A total of 497 defendants have been tried since 2017 for attempting to seize headquarters in Ankara, occupy the headquarters of state broadcaster TRT and force a television station to read a statement on behalf of the coup plotters.
The mass trial was one of the processes against alleged members of a network led by the cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in the United States and whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating the failed attempt. Erdogan’s former ally denies the accusation.
The court on the outskirts of Ankara sentenced 32 defendants to life imprisonment, six of them without the possibility of parole, Anadolu reported.
Those sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment without bail include a former lieutenant colonel who forced a television host to read the statement, a former colonel accused of ordering the seizure of the TRT building, and a former mayor who led the team that tried to take control from the military barracks, the agency said.
The court also sentenced one person to 61 years in prison, while 106 defendants received sentences ranging from 6 to 16 years. Others were acquitted or received no jail time, Anadolu said.
On July 15, 2016, factions within the army used tanks, fighter jets, and helicopters in an attempt to overthrow Erdogan. The planes bombed Parliament and other places in the Turkish capital. Heeding a call from the president, thousands took to the streets to stop the coup.
251 people died and another 2,200 were injured. Some 35 alleged coup plotters also died.
The government has designated Gulen’s network as a terrorist group, another claim that he denies.