A Turkish court sentenced 337 defendants to life imprisonment on Thursday, November 26, for their involvement in the 2016 coup attempt against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The hearing was the final act of the biggest lawsuit in Ankara against coup plotters affiliated with the network of preacher Fethullah Gülen, a former ally of Mr. Erdogan in political Islam and considered by authorities to be the instigator of the failed uprising . Refugee in the United States since 1998, the imam denies any involvement.
The coup attempt, which took place on the night of July 15-16, 2016, left 251 dead and more than 2,000 injured. This bloody event left a lasting mark on Turkey, serving as a pretext for President Erdogan to expand his powers and rid civil society of his dissenting voices. As a result of the vast purges launched after the coup, nearly 150,000 civil servants were dismissed. Around 290,000 people have been arrested for their alleged links with the hated Imam and nearly 100,000 of them have been jailed pending trial, according to Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.
No less than 290 trials in connection with the coup attempt have already been completed, nine others are continuing. In total, the courts have so far handed down more than 2,500 life sentences.
Four years later, police operations targeting suspects of collusion with Gülen’s movement continue. The Turkish government justifies the repression and the heavy penalties by the need to clean the state institutions, the police services and the justice especially, which were plagued by the Gulenists (followers of Gülen), and this for years. Forgetting, the authorities fail to specify that it is with their full approval that this penetration took place, Gülen being for years considered a weighty ally of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), in charge of the country since 2002.
Accused of trying to overthrow the state and bombing emblematic government buildings, including a wing of the Turkish Parliament, 475 defendants – generals, fighter pilots and civilians – appeared on Thursday. for the last hearing of their trial. For three years, the hearings followed one another in the largest room in the country, specially built in the Sincan prison complex, near Ankara.
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