Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – A Turkish court has jailed 27 former pilots and other suspects who carried out a coup against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2016. They were sentenced to life in prison on Thursday (26/11/2020).
The judge handed down life sentences to the air force pilot who bombed the capital Ankara, as well as the civilians who orchestrated the coup attempt from inside the Akinci military base, which is not far from the capital.
They were convicted of crimes including murder, trying to violate constitutional orders and trying to kill Erdogan. The bloody coup in 2016 alone left as many as 251 people dead and with more than 2,000 injured.
“Justice has been carried out. We believe the sentence is given in accordance with the existing law,” said Ufuk Yegin, who represents the victim’s family association, to AFP after the verdict is read.
Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Muslim preacher who was once an ally of Erdogan, is accused of ordering the failed coup. His movement has been banned as a terrorist group by Ankara, although he adamantly denies all allegations.
At the time of the incident, chief of staff general Hulusi Akar, now defense minister, and other top commanders were held hostage at the military base for one night before their rescue on the morning of July 16, 2016.
Parliament has been hit three times by F-16 fighter jets, as have roads near the presidential palace and the headquarters of the Ankara special forces and police. Meanwhile Erdogan was on holiday in southern Turkey at the time.
The bomb killed 68 people in the capital and injured more than 200. Nine civilians also died trying to stop a plot at the entrance to the base.
Gulen and Adil Oksuz, theology lecturers who officials claim were key coordinators of the coup in the field, and four others were tried in absentia. Oksuz was detained shortly after the coup offer but was later released and is now on the run.
Trials against the coup suspects themselves began in August 2017 and involved a total of 475 suspects. More of them are expected to be jailed when the full verdict is published on Thursday evening.
The state news agency Anadolu reports that 365 people have been held in pre-trial detention.
Businessman Kemal Batmaz, who is accused of assisting Oksuz, was among four suspects who were sentenced to 79 life sentences for allegedly managing the coup bid.
The exacerbated life sentence has stricter detention provisions and replaces the death penalty after it was abolished in 2004, when Turkey attempted to join the European Union.
The government crackdown that followed has suppressed the media and led to tens of thousands of people being arrested in nationwide raids.
More than 100,000 public sector employees, including teachers and judges, were fired or suspended for alleged links to Gulen. This arrest continues, even though the sweeping is diminishing.
Despite the large number of suspects, this is not the largest trial related to the coup. Some 521 suspects are being tried in cases that focus on the activities of the presidential bodyguard.
According to Anadolu’s report, there were 289 unsuccessful attempts to overthrow Erdogan and 10 attempts were continued. More than 2,500 life sentences have been issued by Turkish courts, with judges convicted of 4,154 coup suspects since July 2016.