Life sentences handed down to 47 defendants in Polatlı phase of coup trial

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A high criminal court in Ankara on Thursday handed down aggravated life sentences to 27 defendants and life sentences to 20 others due to their role in incidents that took place at military facilities in the Polatlı neighborhood of Ankara on the night of a failed coup on July 15, 2016.

In the final hearing of the trial at the Ankara 13th High Criminal Court, in which 328 defendants were tried, presiding judge Zikrullah Özbağ announced the verdicts.

The 27 defendants, who include high-ranking military officers, were given aggravated life sentences on charges of violating the constitutional order. The court also handed down aggravated life sentences to 20 other defendants, citing the same charge, but later reduced the sentences to life in prison.

The court handed down various sentences ranging from 12 to 20 years to 217 defendants on charges of aiding in the violation of the constitutional order.

The court ruled to acquit a colonel, 62 privates and a civil servant of all charges.

In addition, the case against Spc. Sgt. Adem Tamur, who died during the proceedings, was dropped.

The military coup attempt killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Amid an ongoing witch-hunt targeting the Gülen movement, Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu on Jan. 5 said 48,305 people were jailed in 2017 alone over Gülen movement links.

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