Key officers in Turkey's failed coup faced life sentences | Eurasia Diary -

14 October, Monday

Key officers in Turkey's failed coup faced life sentences

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A key trial of 224 people accused of participating in Turkey's failed coup attempt three years ago came to a close with 17 top generals handed life sentences. 

Those convicted on Thursday include the former head of Turkish air force, Akın Ozturk, who allegedly headed the "Peace at Home Council", which led the coup attempt on July 15, 2016. He was one of the 17 top former military officials who were given 141 "aggravated" life sentences.

Ozturk, who pleaded not guilty, had been at the Ankara Akıncı Air Base during the time it was used as a command centre for the coup. The then Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar and other high ranking military officers were kidnapped and held at the same base during the coup attempt.

Another top military official Gokhan Sahin Sonmezates also stood trial in the 17th High Criminal Court of Ankara, after previously being convicted of leading a team tasked with the assassination of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Sonmezates - possibly the only general to admit involvement in the coup - was sentenced with 137 aggravated life imprisonment penalties.

Since Turkey has abolished the death penalty, aggravated life imprisonment is the heaviest sentence delivered in the country.

At Thursday's hearing, 176 people were sentenced to prison with various rates of punishment, while 35 others have been freed pending trial and 13 people, including Fethullah Gulen, are still wanted for arrest. 

The official charges were violating the constitution, using coercion and violence in an attempt to overthrow parliament and the Turkish government and killing 250 citizens.

Mehmet Algan, spokesperson for July 15 Foundation, set up to preserve the collective memory of the failed coup and promote national solidarity, said the judges should hand heavy sentences as an example for the future. 

"These trials should give a lesson that a coup attempt should never happen again in Turkey," Algan told Al Jazeera. 

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Al Jazeera

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