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Top court releases ex-brigadier general after 6 years in prison on coup charges

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A former brigadier general who had been incarcerated in İzmir for five years, eight months on coup charges has been released based on a recent decision by Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals, local media reported on Saturday, citing a columnist.

Hürriyet daily columnist Sedat Ergin on Saturday said in an article that Brig. Gen. Nihayet Ünlü, who was jailed following an attempted coup in 2016 and handed down an aggravated life sentence in 2018 for attempting to overturn the constitutional order, had been released earlier this week.

The court on Thursday overturned Ünlü’s conviction and ruled for his immediate release provided that he hadn’t been convicted of any other offenses, Ergin said.

“After the Supreme Court of Appeals decision, there’s another stage of the legal process that Ünlü has to go through, [and that’s] a retrial at the local court. However, it is still important that the top court decided to overturn the conviction of a defendant who was sentenced to life and had been kept in prison for nearly six years,” the columnist added.

Turkey experienced a controversial military coup attempt on the night of July 15, 2016 which, according to many, was a false flag aimed at entrenching the authoritarian rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by rooting out dissidents and eliminating powerful actors such as the military in his desire for absolute power.

The failed coup killed 251 people and wounded more than a thousand others. The next morning, after announcing the coup had been suppressed, the Turkish government immediately started a wide-ranging purge of military officers, judges, police officers, teachers and other civil servant that ultimately led to the dismissal of more than 130,000 from their jobs.

On the night of the abortive putsch, President Erdoğan immediately blamed the Gülen movement for the attempt. He has been targeting followers of the movement, a faith-based group inspired by Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, since the corruption investigations of December 17-25, 2013, which implicated then-prime minister Erdoğan, his family members and his inner circle.

Dismissing the investigations as a Gülenist coup and conspiracy against his government, Erdoğan designated the movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members. He locked up thousands including many prosecutors, judges and police officers involved in the investigation as well as journalists who reported on them.

Erdoğan intensified the crackdown on the movement following the coup attempt. Gülen and the movement strongly deny involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

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