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Turkey hands more than 300 life sentences over failed 2016 coup

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A court in Ankara sentenced a total of 337 defendants, the majority of them ex-soldiers, to life in prison on Thursday in one of the largest trials linked to the 2016 failed coup by a Turkish military faction.

The trial – which focused on the Akinci airbase in Ankara, the alleged nerve centre of the putschists – started in 2017. The final hearing concluded under heavy security measures at Ankara’s Sincan courthouse.

A total of 475 defendants were on trial, 365 of them in jail.

Out of the 337 life sentences given, including pilots and commanders, 291 were aggravated life sentences, state news agency Anadolu reported.

Among them were four civilian ringleaders.

Sixty people, including pilots and commanders, were given varying jail sentences, up to more than 18 years.

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The court acquitted 70 defendants of all charges.

Aggravated life sentences are the most severe terms possible in Turkey since it abolished the death penalty in 2002, as there is no chance for parole.

The charges ranged from murder to attempt to overthrow constitutional order and attempt to assassinate the president, among others.

The pilots are accused of bombing the parliament, presidential palace and a police headquarters in Ankara on the night of the failed coup.

The abortive putsch in July 2016 left more than 250 people dead across Turkey.

Facing trial in absentia is Fethullah Gulen, the US-based cleric the government blames for orchestrating the coup, though he denies the charges.

The court ruled to continue trial for six defendants, including Gulen.

A strict state of emergency followed the coup that saw more than 100,000 purged from their government jobs.

A total of 96,000 people have been arrested over alleged links to Gulen so far, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said on Thursday, according to Anadolu.

Several trials related to the coup are still ongoing in Turkey.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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