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Turkish court sentences 10 defendants to aggravated life over 2013 graft probe

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A Turkish court has sentenced 10 people for their involvement in a December 2013 corruption investigation to aggravated life imprisonment on charges of attempting to overthrow the government, Sputnik Turkish service reported on Monday.

The 13th İstanbul High Criminal Court announced aggravated life sentences for former police chiefs Yakub Saygılı, Kazım Aksoy, Yasin Topçu and Mahir Çakallı along with Arif İbiş, Mustafa Demirhan, Mehmet Habib Kunt, İbrahim Şener, Mehmet Fatih Yiğit and Mehmet Akif Üner.

The former officers were tried for taking part in a graft probe in 2013 that implicated then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as well as members of his family and senior figures from his Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The so-called Dec. 17-25 investigations led to the resignation of four Cabinet ministers, to which Erdoğan responded by claiming that the corruption scandal was fabricated by sympathizers of the Gülen movement within the police department with the aim of overthrowing his government.

Since then, hundreds of police officers have been detained and some arrested for alleged illegal activity in the course of the corruption investigation.

Erdoğan’s witch hunt against the movement escalated and expanded to include many government bodies after a July 15, 2016 military coup attempt in Turkey. Erdoğan accused the Gülen movement of being behind the attempted coup and demanded the extradition of its leader, Fethullah Gülen, from the United States. The Gülen movement strongly denies the allegations brought against it. Thousands of public servants, judges, prosecutors, academics and journalists have been detained for alleged links to the movement.

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