Turkish Court Sentences Dozens to Life Imprisonment for 2016 Coup Attempt

Turkey’s state media on Wednesday reported that a Turkish court sentenced dozens of people, including former soldiers attached to the presidential guard, to life in prison for their involvement in the 2016 failed coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.The Turkish state news service Anadolu, citing judicial sources, reported 32 life sentences, including six who received terms of “aggravated life imprisonment,” meaning they must serve without the possibility of parole for at least 30 years.A total of 497 defendants had been on trial since 2017 for attempting to seize the military headquarters in Ankara, occupying the headquarters of the state broadcaster TRT, and for forcing a television broadcaster to read out a statement on behalf of the coup-plotters.The massive trial was one of hundreds of trials against suspected members of a network led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating the failed attempt. Gulen, a former Erdogan ally, denies the accusation.The sentences stem from the attempted coup of July 2016, in which factions within the Turkish military used tanks, warplanes and helicopters in an effort to overthrow Erdogan.Fighter jets bombed parliament and other spots in Turkey’s capital. Heeding a call by the president, thousands took to the streets to stop the coup.A total of 251 people were killed and about 2,200 others were wounded. Roughly 35 alleged coup plotters also were killed.The government has designated Gulen’s network as a terrorist group, a claim he denies. He lives in the northeastern U.S. state of Pennsylvania.

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