A court in Ankara sentenced four officers to aggravated life imprisonment yesterday for their involvement in the July 15, 2016 coup attempt blamed on Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
The convicted putschists were soldiers in the Mechanized Infantry Brigade in Ankara's Mamak district and commanded tanks that were sent to the military's headquarters to seize it. An additional life sentence was handed to one defendant for killing Mesut Yağan, a civilian who was in an anti-coup crowd that tried to persuade coup plotters to surrender. Thirty-four other defendants in the trial were released.
Maj. Dursun Koca, one of the sentenced defendants, claimed he did not command tanks or troops heading to the military headquarters, although he admitted he accompanied the ones who did. Maj. Ahmet Çelikel, another defendant, claimed he only followed orders while heading to the headquarters and did not know that what was happening was a coup attempt.
The office of Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar was among the strategic locations that putschists sought to seize. Akar and other military top brass opposing the coup were abducted and taken to a military base where putschists coordinated attacks. Upon hearing of the coup attempt, the public flocked to the headquarters to prevent its occupation. Mesut Yağan was among several people killed by putschist troops there. He and his wife were among those accompanying police officers who confronted the putschists. He was shot as he tried to climb on a tank to talk the putschist troops inside. Yağan, 32, succumbed to his wounds while he was being taken to the hospital.
Abdurrahman Koçoğlu, a first lieutenant who was among those sentenced to life in prison at yesterday's hearing, was accused of firing the shots that killed Yağan. Koçoğlu claimed that he only fired into the air when civilians surrounded them.
Since the coup attempt, tens of thousands of people have been arrested or detained for suspected links to the coup attempt and FETÖ. So far, more than 300 defendants have been sentenced to prison terms in coup trials. More trials are expected to wrap up later this year while the main trial on the takeover of the office of the Chief of General Staff, in which 221 defendants are being tried, is still underway.