72 sen­tenced to life in Turk­ish coup bridge trial

Jerusalem Post - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A Turk­ish court sen­tenced 72 de­fen­dants to life in prison on Thurs­day for their role in killing 34 peo­ple af­ter seiz­ing con­trol of a sus­pen­sion bridge in Istanbul two years ago dur­ing an at­tempted coup, state me­dia said.

The court sen­tenced the 72 de­fen­dants, who in­cluded a colonel and ma­jor in the Turk­ish mil­i­tary, for “at­tempt­ing to de­stroy con­sti­tu­tional or­der” and sen­tenced an­other 27 de­fen­dants to more than 15 years in prison for help­ing that ef­fort, ac­cord­ing to state-run Anadolu agency.

The de­fen­dants in the case were also orig­i­nally charged with de­lib­er­ately killing civil­ians who heeded a call from Pres­i­dent Tayyip Er­do­gan to chal­lenge the coup plot­ters af­ter they closed off the bridge across the Bospho­rus Strait.

The ver­dicts come as Tur­key pre­pares to com­mem­o­rate the an­niver­sary of the July 15, 2016 coup at­tempt on Sun­day, and as Er­do­gan cel­e­brates his re­cent elec­tion vic­tory, which makes him the first holder of a new, all-pow­er­ful ex­ec­u­tive pres­i­dency.

The Istanbul bridge, re­named the “July 15 Mar­tyrs’ Bridge,” was a flash­point on the night of the coup. Vic­tims in­cluded Erol Ol­cok, an ad­ver­tiser who ran po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns for Er­do­gan’s Jus­tice and De­vel­op­ment Party (AKP) and his 17-year-old son.

Thirty-four Turk­ish flags were dis­played on the plain­tiffs’ side of the court­room on Thurs­day as the ver­dicts were read, rep­re­sent­ing the 34 peo­ple slain on the bridge.

Tur­key has de­tained 160,000 peo­ple since then in a crack­down tar­get­ing sol­diers, aca­demics and civil ser­vants sus­pected of links to Fethul­lah Gulen, the Mus­lim cleric whom Ankara blames for the failed coup, and dis­missed nearly the same num­ber of em­ploy­ees, the UN hu­man rights of­fice said in March.

Of those de­tained, 77,000 have been for­mally charged and kept in jail dur­ing trial, the in­te­rior min­is­ter said in April.

Er­do­gan’s crit­ics ac­cuse him of us­ing the failed putsch as a pre­text to quash dis­sent. Tur­key says the mea­sures are nec­es­sary to com­bat threats to na­tional se­cu­rity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Israel

© PressReader. All rights reserved.