First July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge coup case hearing held in Istanbul
The first hearing in a major case into last year’s failed coup attempt, centered around deadly confrontations on Istanbul’s July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge, previously named the Bosphorus Bridge, took place on Oct. 9.
Prosecutors are seeking 37 aggravated life sentences for each of the 143 suspects, including 135 suspects currently remanded in custody.
A total of 137 suspects, including two not remanded in custody, attended the first hearing at Istanbul’s 25th Criminal Court.
On the night of the July 2016 coup attempt, 34 people were killed on the bridge spanning Istanbul’s Bosphorus by snipers, gunshots and tanks. The bridge was later renamed to commemorate the civilians who lost their lives on the night.
All but two of those killed were civilians, while the remaining two were police officers.
Erol Olçok, the head of an advertising agency who worked on a number of election campaigns with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was among the civilians killed on the bridge, along with his son Abdullah Tayyip Olçok.
Security camera footage and photographs from the night are cited in the indictment prepared by prosecutors Hikmet Pak and Bülent Başar from the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office’s Terror and the Organized Crime Investigation Bureau.
The indictment, which comes to over 1,000 pages, accuses the suspects, including 30 military officers and 47 military cadets, of “attempting to remove the Turkish Parliament or preventing it from carrying out its duties,” “attempting to remove the government of the Turkish Republic or preventing it from carrying out its duties,” “attempting to remove the constitutional order,” and “deliberate killing.”
Eight suspects being tried without arrest, including privates, left the bridge after “understanding the gravity of the situation,” said the indictment from 318 complainants.
It also said footage shows that the first deaths on the bridge occurred after a tank used by coup soldiers made artillery shooting and soldiers opened fire with long-barreled weapons starting at around 00:40 a.m. on July 16.
The number of people resisting the coup soldiers had increased by around 2:00 a.m., and footage showed people walking towards the bridge from the European side at around 02:45 a.m., the indictment states.
In addition, it says Major Ahmet Taştan can be seen ordering soldiers to open fire on civilians, while former Lt. Col. Turgay Ödemiş was also present.
According to the footage, soldiers opened fire on civilians and the recordings stop with civilians walking towards the soldiers, as the tanks continued to fire artillery shots at 6:35 a.m., the indictment states.