An Istanbul court on Friday ordered the release of 69 military cadets who were tried on charges related to the July 15 coup attempt perpetrated by the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
The cadets from a military school were training to operate fighter jets and helicopters and are among 75 defendants charged for attempting to overthrow the democratically elected government and for being members of a terrorist group. In their trial, which started this week, the cadets, who were brought to Istanbul from the nearby city of Yalova,where they were in a boot camp, claimed that they were simply following the orders of their superiors. They said that they did not know where they were being taken on buses and they were not aware a coup attempt was unfolding.
The court, which is located across the sprawling prison complex in Istanbul's Silivri ,where pro-coup troops are jailed, ordered the further imprisonment of a captain and two lieutenants who were among officers leading the cadets and the trial was adjourned until May.
The cadets were released with judicial control and barred from travelling abroad through the course of legal proceedings. The panel of judges also ordered an investigation into the defendants' use of Bylock, an encrypted messaging app exclusively used by FETÖ members.
In the coup trials that started last year, hundreds of military officers as well as a number of civilians are accused of attempting to overthrow the elected government in a plot orchestrated by FETÖ.
FETÖ, led by U.S.-based former preacher Fetullah Gülen, sought to topple the Turkish government and seize power, ahead of a critical meeting of the country's leaders and top generals who were expected to dismiss FETÖ-linked officers from the army, according to the statements of former FETÖ members.
Most of the coup trials currently underway involve low-ranking military officers who played a role in the putsch bid while the Peace at Home Council, the FETÖ-linked junta behind the coup attempt, has yet to appear before a court.
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