7 given aggravated life sentences for transfer of cadets on July 15

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Seven out of 16 defendants who stood trial on charges of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order through their effort to transport Air Force Academy cadets from Yalova to İstanbul on the night of a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 have been given aggravated life sentences.

The trial was concluded at the İstanbul 27th High Criminal Court on Wednesday.

Among the seven defendants were high-ranking military officers.

The military coup attempt claimed the lives of 249 people while a thousand others were injured when a group within the Turkish military attempted to overthrow the government. The coup attempt was suppressed in around six hours.

The remaining defendants were given various jail sentences.

The Turkish government accuses the Gülen movement of masterminding the July 15 failed coup, although the movement denies any involvement.

The government refers to the movement as a terrorist organization using the derogatory term FETÖ.

During the final hearing of the trial, lawyer Muazzez Görkem Büyükgövez, who represents defendant Hasan Yıldırım, told the court that there is actually no terror organization named FETÖ and that what the government calls FETÖ was “totally fabricated.”

The lawyer prompted a warning from the presiding judge with her remarks.

At the end of the trial, the panel of the judges decided to file a criminal complaint against Büyükgövez due to her remarks suggesting that there is no such terror organization as FETÖ on allegations of disseminating the propaganda of a terrorist organization.

Last month the state-run Anadolu news agency reported that a total of 285 cases were launched against coup suspects and 889 verdicts of life imprisonment had been handed down in 137 of those cases up until then.

Of the 889 rulings, 392 were aggravated life sentences, or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Meanwhile, 1,393 defendants were sentenced to varying jail terms.

Apart from coup trials, thousands of others have been convicted of membership in or leading a terrorist group after they were detained over alleged ties to the Gülen movement.

More than 150,000 people have been taken into police custody, of whom 77,000 have been put in pretrial detention due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup.

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