Turkey jails dozens over failed 2016 coup

Turkish court jails 27 former pilots and other suspects for life in trial stemming from failed 2016 coup attempt against Erdogan.

Elad Benari ,

Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

A Turkish court on Thursday jailed 27 former pilots and other suspects for life in one of the largest trials stemming from the failed 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, AFP reported.

A total of 251 people died and more than 2,000 were injured in the failed coup, which Turkey blames on Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Muslim preacher who was once an Erdogan ally.

Gulen leads a popular movement called Hizmet and split from Erdogan over a corruption scandal in 2013. Erdogan has long accused him of running a parallel state from abroad.

The cleric, who denies the claims that he was behind the failed 2016 coup, has hinted that the uprising by members of the country’s military could have been “staged” by the government.

On Thursday, a judge handed down multiple life sentences to disgruntled air force pilots who bombed the capital Ankara and civilians who orchestrated the coup attempt from inside the Akinci military base near the capital.

They were convicted of crimes including murder, attempting to violate the constitutional order and attempting to assassinate Erdogan.

Thursday's verdicts culminate a trial that began in August 2017 and involves a total of 475 suspects.

The 2016 coup attempt was followed by fierce government crackdown that has muzzled the media and seen tens of thousands arrested in nationwide raids.

More than 100,000 public sector employees, including teachers and judges, were sacked or suspended because of their suspected links to Gulen.