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Turkish court sentences 337 people to life imprisonment for organizing a putsch

The failure of the coup d'état of 2016 led President Erdogan to strengthen his powers (photo: F.Dubessy)
The failure of the coup d'état of 2016 led President Erdogan to strengthen his powers (photo: F.Dubessy)
TURKEY. From 15 to 16 July 2016, they attempted to overthrow Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Tried since 2017, 337 former putschists of the Akinci air base were sentenced on Thursday 26 November 2020 to life imprisonment. The court found them guilty of "attempting to overthrow the constitutional order", "attempted assassination of the president" and "intentional homicide".

The majority of them were military personnel, including officers, behind the coup that began from the Akinci military base and twenty-five F16 pilots who carried out bombings of strategic places (Parliament, headquarters of the special forces and the police, roads around the presidential palace...) in Ankara. But also a businessman, Kemal Batmaz, and three other civilians recognised as supporters of the preacher Fethullah Gülen (a refugee in the United States), considered by the Turkish authorities as the organiser of the coup d'état.

Seventy-nine of them are sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment - some with 3,901 years and 6 months in prison each - for "attempted intentional murder", "attempted deprivation of liberty", "deprivation of liberty". Aggravated life imprisonment, the last degree in Turkish criminal legislation since the abolition of the death penalty in 2004, provides for stricter conditions of detention.

4,500 people already sentenced

Sixty other defendants were found guilty and will also have to remain behind bars, while seventy-five defendants were acquitted. This is the most important trial related to this failed coup, but further verdicts are expected. A total of 520 people are being tried in this case in nearly 300 trials, ten of which have been completed. 4,500 people have already been convicted, of whom nearly 3,000 have been sentenced to life imprisonment.

The official toll of the failed putsch has been established at 251 deaths (excluding the perpetrators of the coup d'état), sixty-eight of which were due to the bombings, and more than 2,000 injured. It led Recep Tayyip Erdogan strengthened his powers through a revision of the constitution in 2017 and his re-election as president in June 2018. He also carried out numerous purges with the arrest of several tens of thousands of people and the dismissal or suspension from office of some 140,000 of them.

Eric Apim

Friday, November 27th 2020

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