An Ankara court on Friday handed down life sentences to 121 defendants in connection with the attempted overthrow of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in 2016, Deutsche Welle English service reported, citing local media.
According to the Turkish government, at least 248 people, excluding 24 coup-plotters, were killed on July 15, 2016, when a part of the military tried to overthrow Erdoğan at the Gendarmerie General Command in the Turkish capital.
Eighty-six of the defendants were sentenced to aggravated life for ”attempting to violate the constitution.” Another 35 were given life sentences for the same crime.
A total of 245 defendants attended Friday’s proceedings.
The failed 2016 coup attempt led to hundreds of thousands of arrests, detentions, and firings from public sector jobs – with critics alleging that President Erdoğan used the small military uprising as a pretext for pursuing his opponents.
Of the 121, one former colonel received nine aggravated life sentences for premeditated murder.
More than 1,900 people had been sentenced to life in prison by Turkish courts over coup links as of December, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported.
Under the Turkish legal system, an aggravated life sentence has tougher terms of detention and was enacted to replace the death penalty, which Turkey abolished in 2004 as part of an effort to join the EU.
Friday’s trial is one of more than 280 coup-related proceedings that make up the biggest legal process in modern Turkish history.
Trials are starting again following a three-month pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Turkish Justice Minister Abdülhamit Gül last week said 15 trials were underway.
This includes a trial considered to be one of the most important that started in 2017 and focuses on events at an airbase near Ankara seen as hub for the coup leaders.