Turkish Court Issues Life Sentences for Pilots Involved in 2016 Coup

Turkish Court Issues Life Sentences for Pilots Involved in 2016 Coup

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A Turkish court handed life sentences to former military commanders and fighter jet pilots who bombed police compounds and the parliament building in Ankara during a failed coup.

The court also handed down dozens of life sentences on Thursday for at least 500 defendants, Anadolu Agency reported.

More than 250 people were killed in the attempt to overthrow the government on July 15, 2016 when rogue soldiers commandeered warplanes, helicopters and tanks and sought to take control of key state institutions.

The state-owned Anadolu and other media said 25 F-16 pilots were given aggravated life sentences while four civilians were each given 79 life sentences.

Former air force commander Akin Ozturk and others at the Akinci air base near Ankara were accused of directing the coup and bombing government buildings, including parliament, and attempting to kill President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The trial was the most high profile of dozens of court cases targeting thousands of people accused of involvement in the coup attempt, which Ankara blamed on supporters of the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.

On July 15, 2016, elements of the Turkish Armed Forces tried to seize control over key sites in Ankara, Istanbul and several other locations across the country, but were quickly overpowered. The government accused dissident cleric Fethullah Gulen of staging the coup. Gulen, who has lived in self-exile in the US since 1999, denied the allegations.

The US-based Gulen movement is considered to be a terrorist group by Turkey. Security forces regularly conduct raids against the cleric’s supporters in different parts of the country.

Turkish courts previously sentenced 121 people to life in prison for their role in the coup in June and 151 last year.

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