4 get life sentence for violating constitution in Ergenekon case
While freeing over 200 defendants charged in the same trial, a Turkish court on Monday handed life sentences to four defendants in the Ergenekon case, which involves a reported conspiracy to overthrow Turkey's government dating back a decade.
Istanbul's No. 4 Heavy Penal Court ordered life sentences for Osman Yıldırım, Erhan Timuroğlu, and İsmail Sağır for violating the Constitution and aggravated life imprisonment for Alparslan Arslan.
The court also gave prison terms to another 25 out of 235 defendants, ranging from 10 months to over 11 years for various crimes.
Separately, the same court acquitted all the defendants of the charge of establishing an armed group, and of leading, aiding, and being a member of an armed group after finding no concrete evidence of the presence of an Ergenekon terrorist organization.
The court also ordered the release of 203 defendants who had been charged with various crimes.
Gürbüz Çapan, the former mayor of Istanbul's Esenyurt district, was given 10 months in prison for the possession of 42 weapons cartridges.
Tekin Irsi, the only defendant to get imprisonment for being a member of an armed terrorist group, got over six years behind bars.
The court deferred the announcement of a verdict for nine defendants for the next five years.
The original Ergenekon conspiracy probe, dating back to 2007, led to trials of military officers, politicians, academics, and journalists in 2013, but later the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned hundreds of convictions in the case.
Last year, Turkish authorities said the 2013 Ergenekon trial was based on fabricated evidence, and blamed the prosecutions on FETÖ member soldiers trying to purge the military of rival officers.
FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup on July 15, 2016, which left 251 people killed and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETÖ of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.