Turkey seeks 2,988 life sentences for 38 coup attempt suspects

Istiklal Monument, Taksim Square, 15 July 2016

Turkey’s state prosecutor is seeking 2,988 life sentences for 38 military personnel suspected to have taken part in last year’s coup attempt. The indictment on the case has been completed and sent to judicial authorities. The trial is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

Turkey experienced the bloodiest coup attempt in its political history when a section of the Turkish military launched an operation in several major cities to topple the government and unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July last year.

The Turkish government has accused US-based Muslim cleric and former ally Fethullah Gulen of having orchestrated the putsch, and launched a sweeping crackdown against his followers.

According to indictment, Gulen is the ‘number one suspect’ in the failed coup attempt while ex-general Akin Ozturk has been accused of being the main plotter. Turkey will seek 92 life sentences for Fethullah Gulen while another 211 people will go on trial.

38 suspects will be tried on charges of ‘violating the law’ and ‘attempting to destroy the Turkish Republic and Turkey Parliament using violence and force’ as well as ‘forming an armed terrorist organisation’, ‘martyring 250 soldiers’ and ‘attempting to kill 2735 people’.

Some 43,000 people in Turkey have been arrested over their suspected links to the Gulenist movement, and over 100,000 have been dismissed or suspended, many of them teachers, police officers, court members and journalists.

President Erdogan and Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar have been listed as ‘injured parties’ indictment, which also alleges that the coup attempt was planned in December 2015.

The prosecutor has also issued warrants for fugitive suspects Fetullah Gulen, General Mehmet Nail Yigit, Captain Ahmet Zeki Gerehan, Staff Colonels Onur Ozden, Rifki Keser, Uzay Sahin, Lieutenant Colonels Irfan Arat, Engin Durmaz and Commander Mehmet Murat Celebioglu.

Fethullah Gulen has been living in the northeastern US state of Pennsylvania since 1999. Turkish authorities have been asking the US to return Gulen to Turkey as a political criminal, yet no actions have been taken by the US.