Mother fears military cadets arrested on coup charges will be killed in prison

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Military cadet's mother Melek Çetinkaya (R).

The mother of one of the military cadets who were jailed on coup charges in the aftermath of a failed military coup in July 2016 has said her son and the other jailed cadets would be killed in prison.

Melek Çetinkaya, the mother of Furkan Çetinkaya, one of the cadets at the Turkish Air Force Academy, spoke to Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, a deputy from the Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP) and a human rights activist, for a Periscope broadcast in the Turkish Parliament on Thursday.

Çetinkaya said the military cadets were not killed on the night of the coup attempt nor during their trials, but she fears they will be murdered while in prison.

A total of 259 military cadets were detained on coup charges on July 16, 2016 and were arrested four days later. The cadets were indicted one year after they were sent to jail, and their trial was concluded in May 2018. One hundred seventy-eight of the cadets were given life sentences on charges of attempting to overturn the constitutional order and attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and parliament by use of force as well as membership in a terrorist organization.

The cadets say they had no information about a coup attempt unfolding and were acting on orders from their superiors, who told them there was a terrorist attack.

“I am telling the parents of the cadets. Don’t expect your children to come out of prison alive. Let alone their release or acquittal, don’t expect them to come out alive because the state is willing to sacrifice our children. I have just come to understand this,” said the mother.

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

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