Coup plotters receive aggravated life sentences
Turkish court jailed 337 former pilots and other suspects for life in one of the largest trials stemming from the bloody 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The country’s largest courtroom was packed with dozens of security personnel and lawyers and the presiding judge ordered one protesting defendant to “Sit down!” several times before reading the verdict. Court documents obtained by Agence France-Presse showed 337 defendants handed life sentences for murder, violating the constitutional order and attempting to assassinate Erdoğan. Sixty suspects were given jail sentences of various lengths while 75 were acquitted.
In the trial on the role of officers at the Akıncı Air base, which served as a headquarters for the failed July 15 attempt, the court handed 79 aggravated life sentences to 15 former soldiers, including pilots who bombed Ankara, and four civilian covert imams, who were present at the base to manage the coup attempt. All of them were also sentenced to 3,901 years and six months in prison for “attempting to intentionally kill”, “attempting to deprive a person of liberty” and “depriving a person of liberty.”
Former pilot Capt. Hüseyin Türk, who bombed the Turkish Grand National Assembly, TÜRKSAT and the Presidency of the Police Special Operations Department, former pilot Maj. Mustafa Azimetli, who used the laser-guided system to target the Police Aviation Department, and ex-pilot Lt. Col. Hasan Hüsnü Balıkçı, who bombed the Turkish Grand National Assembly for the second time, were handed 79 aggravated life sentences and 3,901 years and six months in prison.
Former pilot Capt. Uğur Uzunoğlu, who bombed the Police Special Operations Department while being on the same plane with Hüseyin Türk, was also given 45 aggravated life sentences and 1,170 years in prison for deliberate killing 44 people.
Former fighter pilot Müslim Macit, who killed 15 people near the presidential complex during the coup attempt, received 16 aggravated life sentences. Macit had dropped two MK-82 bombs from his jet on an intersection and a parking lot in the vicinity of the presidential complex, also injuring seven, the Anadolu Agency has reported.
The court also sentenced former lieutenant Mustafa Mete Kaygusuz, who sent the bombing instructions to the F-16 jets hijacked by the putchists during the coup attempt, to 79 aggravated life sentences.
Former İncirlik 10th Tanker Base Commander Bekir Ercan Van, who provided fuel to the pilots, was handed 79 aggravated life sentences.
Also, civilians Kemal Batmaz, Hakan Çiçek, Nurettin Oruç, Harun Biniş who led the coup attempt from Akıncı Base, each received 79 aggravated life sentences. According to the indictment, these four members of FETÖ, also known as imams, as well as the fugitive Adil Öksüz, operated in the terror group’s civilian wing, making preparations for the coup after a green light from the U.S.-based FETÖ leader, Fethullah Gülen.
An aggravated life sentence has tougher terms of detention and replaced the death penalty after it was abolished in 2004 as part of Turkey’s drive to join the European Union.
FETÖ and its U.S.-based leader, Fetullah Gülen, orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which killed 251 people and wounded 2,200.