Turkey Sentences 104 Suspects to Life in Imprisonment Amid Failed Coup

Turkey condemned on Monday 104 suspects to life in jail over their connects to the July 2016 failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The previous military faculty were given “aggravated life sentences” by a court in the western province of Izmir, state news agency Anadolu said, for “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order”.

Such jail sentences, which replaced the death penalty in Turkey, carry harsher conditions than normal life sentences.

In total, 280 military staff are on trial over the failed coup bid.

The court gave 21 suspects a 20-year jail sentence for “assisting the assassination of the president” while 31 were given sentences between seven years and six months and 10 years and six months for being a member of an armed terror group, the agency added.

Among the suspects receiving life sentences were former air force chief of staff lieutenant general Hasan Huseyin Demiraslan and ex-Aegean army command chief of staff major general Memduh Hakbilen.

There was an alleged plot to kill Erdogan on the night of the coup while he was on holiday in the Aegean resort of Marmaris with his family. The president has said the plot left him 15 minutes from death.

The attempted putsch claimed more than 240 lives, according to the Turkish presidency, not including 24 coup-plotters killed on the night.

More than 2,000 people were injured.

The government blames the network of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of Erdogan, for orchestrating the failed coup. Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, has denied involvement and condemned the putsch.

Since the coup attempt, authorities have detained 160,000 people and dismissed nearly the same number of civil servants as part of a sweeping crackdown, the UN human rights office said in March. Of that number, more than 50,000 have been formally charged and kept in jail pending trial.

The scale of the crackdown has alarmed rights groups and Turkey’s Western allies, who fear the country is sliding further into authoritarianism under Erdogan and accuse the president of using the failed putsch as a pretext to quash dissent.

The government, however, says the measures are necessary, given the extent of the security threats it faces.

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