Turkey hands down 4,820 prison sentences on coup charges since 2016

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Turkish courts have thus far handed down prison sentences to 4,820 defendants in 287 cases on charges related to a coup attempt that took place on July 15, 2016, according to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency on Friday.

A total of 1,373 of the defendants were sentenced to life in prison, while 1,626 were given aggravated life imprisonment and the remaining 1,821 were handed down prison sentences of varying lengths, Anadolu said.

According to the report 289 cases have been launched against coup suspects, and only two of them currently remain open, although they are expected to be concluded later this year.

Appeals are underway, Anadolu said, adding that the Supreme Court of Appeals has upheld verdicts in 78 trials.

Apart from coup trials, thousands of others have been convicted of membership in or leading a terrorist group after they were detained over alleged ties to the Gülen movement, a worldwide civic initiative inspired by the ideas and activism of the US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gülen.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government label the movement as a terrorist organization and accuse its followers of masterminding the failed coup, despite the strong denial of Gülen and his followers of any involvement in the coup attempt or any terrorist activity.

Erdoğan has been targeting followers of the Gülen movement since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-Prime Minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

He intensified the crackdown on the faith-based movement following the abortive putsch, removing more than 130,000 civil servants from their jobs on alleged Gülen links as part of a widespread purge carried out under the pretext of an anti-coup fight.

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