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Turkey court jails officers over 2016 coup plot

Turkey court jails officers over 2016 coup plot thumbnail

Publishedduration1 hour agoimage copyrightAFPimage captionDefendants were paraded when the mass trial opened in August 2017A court in Turkey has given life sentences to dozens of defendants in one of the biggest trials linked to the 2016 coup attempt.Air force pilots and army commanders were among the nearly 500 defendants accused of trying to overthrow President…

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image captionDefendants were paraded when the mass trial opened in August 2017

A court in Turkey has given life sentences to dozens of defendants in one of the biggest trials linked to the 2016 coup attempt.

Air force pilots and army commanders were among the nearly 500 defendants accused of trying to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

They allegedly directed the plot from the Akinci air base near Ankara.

Mr Erdogan says US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen masterminded the plot, which led to mass arrests.

Mr Gulen has denied any involvement in the attempted coup in July 2016 that killed 251 people and injured more than 2,000. Mr Erdogan was on vacation at the time at a resort.

Thousands of civilians rallied in support of Mr Erdogan in a night of turmoil, confronting rogue soldiers and preventing the plotters from seizing power.

The trial began in August 2017, and the charges include attempting to kill President Erdogan and to seize key state institutions.

Officers who conspired against Mr Erdogan seized aircraft at the Akinci base, taking then chief of staff Gen Hulusi Akar and some other officers hostage.

The indictment states that 25 pilots in F-16s bombed targets in Ankara, including parliament, which was hit three times, as well as key security buildings. The bombing killed 68 people in Ankara and injured more than 200.

Twenty-five of those in the dock are generals and 10 are civilians. More than 10 of the military officers – including F-16 fighter pilots – and four civilians got 79 life sentences each.

media captionAlleged coup plotters outside the court near Ankara, Aug 2017

The sentences are still being handed down at Turkey’s biggest court in Sincan near Ankara.

Six were put on trial in absentia, including Mr Gulen and Adil Oksuz, a theology lecturer accused of being a key co-ordinator in the coup plot.

The Hizmet movement led by Mr Gulen has been branded a “terrorist” organisation by Mr Erdogan. He was once an ally of the president, but since the coup attempt the 79-year-old cleric has remained a fugitive in Pennsylvania and Turkey wants his extradition.

Mr Erdogan carried out a sweeping purge of state institutions after the plot, sacking or suspending more than 100,000 public sector employees, including teachers and judges, who were accused of links to Mr Gulen.

There have been many trials of alleged plotters and courts have issued more than 2,500 life sentences.

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