Sunday 18 April 2021
News ID: 88937
Publish Date: 07 April 2021 - 22:00
ANKARA (Al Jazeera) – A Turkish court on Wednesday sentenced 22 former soldiers to life in jail for their roles in a failed 2016 bid to remove President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In its latest mass trial of suspects whose failure to depose Erdogan was followed by a sweeping political crackdown and arrests, an Ankara court investigated the role of 497 former soldiers, including members of the presidential guard.
The putsch attempt included a raid on Turkey’s main state television broadcaster, whose newscaster was forced to read out a statement from the military leaders.
One of the president’s lawyers provided AFP news agency with a document showing the judge jailing 22 former ranking military personnel for life.
These included former lieutenant colonel Umit Gencer, who was convicted of "violating the constitutional order” by making TRT television read out a "coup declaration”.
The court also handed ex-major Fedakar Akca an aggravated life sentence for leading a team from the regiment to the general staff headquarters on the night, state news agency Anadolu reported.
Former colonel Muhammet Tanju Poshor received his sentence for directing the occupation of the TRT building, it added.
An aggravated life sentence has tougher terms of detention and replaced the death penalty after it was abolished in 2004.
Another ex-major, Osman Koltarla, was in charge of the presidential palace’s security at the time. The court handed him a life sentence.
The verdict was read out in the country’s largest courtroom, which was built to hear coup trials at the Sincan prison complex in Ankara province.
The case into the regiment began in October 2017, with 243 hearings, Anadolu Agency said. The end of the trial marks the end of the cases heard in the capital nearly five years later.
Turkey accuses U.S.-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen of masterminding the coup, a claim he strongly denies.
Tens of thousands of people have been arrested over alleged links to Gulen since 2016, and police raids continue to this day.
More than 100,000 have been sacked or suspended from the public sector over similar allegations.


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