An İstanbul court has handed down life sentences to 70 air force academy cadets on charges of attempting to destroy the constitutional order by means of a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
The 70 military cadets, who stood trial at the İstanbul 24th High Criminal Court, were jailed for seven months following the coup attempt and then released pending trial. They were sentenced two-and-a-half years after they were released from jail.
The cadets were initially handed down aggravated life sentences by the court, but their sentences were later reduced to life in prison for good behavior during the trial.
The air force cadets said on the night of the coup they were taken to İstanbul in buses from Yalova and that they did not know they were part of a coup attempt.
The cadets said the only surprising thing on July 15, 2016 was an unplanned morning visit by Air Forces Commander Gen. Abidin Ünal to their training camp in Yalova.
Turkish media reported claims that during a speech to cadets in Yalova on July 15, Ünal underlined the importance of carrying out the orders of their commanders.
Columnist Ahmet Nesin wrote on the Artıgerçek news website that during his unplanned visit Ünal told the commander of the camp to cancel all training activities in the afternoon: “He told the commander ‘Don’t tire the boys out; they’ll get tired this evening’.”
The cadets’ families were shocked by the verdicts.