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Justice minister says trials of Gülen followers to be concluded by end of year

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Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül has said he thinks the trials of followers of the Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding a failed coup attempt in July 2016, will be concluded by the end of 2018.

Speaking to the Anadolu news agency on Thursday, Gül said, “I think these trials will drop off the judicial agenda and will be concluded by the end of 2018.”

The military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the 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.

According to a European Commission (EC) report on April 17, “since the introduction of the state of emergency on July 20, 2016, over 150 000 people were taken into custody, 78 000 were arrested and over 110 000 civil servants were dismissed.”

Gül said a total of 171 out of 287 trials have been concluded so far in which alleged coup plotters have stood trial and 622 defendants have been given aggravated life sentences.

The minister also said the fight against the Gülen movement will continue after the conclusion of the trials.

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