Prosecutors in Ankara asked a judge on Wednesday for aggravated life sentences for 267 defendants being tried for their involvement in a violent coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a court filing shows.
All 267 suspects are being tried for taking over a military complex in Ankara's Polatlı district, which hosts the 58th Artillery Brigade and the Turkish Army's Field Artillery and Missile School. The trial was adjourned and the court will hear final pleas in the next hearings before issuing a verdict.
The coup bid, blamed on military infiltrators of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), left 249 people dead across Turkey.
Meanwhile, the prosecutors also asked the court to release another 62 defendants - all conscripts - and a civil servant who worked at the base. The defendants who face aggravated life sentence include former Brig. Gen. Murat Aygün, one of the senior putschists associated with the coup plotters' "Peace At Home Council." Aygün and other officers are accused of taking over the military complex and dispatching troops to set up roadblocks across the capital in a bid to assist other putschists who tried to seize the capital. Pro-coup troops carried out airstrikes targeting the Presidential Complex, the headquarters of an elite police unit, as well as Parliament and opened fire on unarmed civilians. Since the coup attempt, tens of thousands of people have been arrested or detained for suspected links to the coup attempt and FETÖ. More trials are expected to wrap up later this year, while the main trial of 221 defendants accused of taking over the office of the Chief of General Staff is still underway. FETÖ is accused of orchestrating multiple coup attempts in Turkey, and its members face terrorism charges. According to prosecutors, the group used its infiltrators in the military to run the coup attempt, overseen by its nonmilitary point men. Led by its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gülen, the group long disguised itself as a religious charity before moving to seize power in Turkey with two coup attempts in 2013 using its infiltrators in law enforcement and the judiciary. After the 2013 attempts, Turkey designated it a national threat and escalated a crackdown on the group.
The terrorist group faces almost daily operations against it across Turkey. On Wednesday, police in northwestern city of Bursa detained 25 suspects in raids targeting 22 FETÖ "safe houses." FETÖ runs an unknown number of safe houses, known as "gaybubet (absence) houses," across the country according to authorities. Although senior figures of the terrorist group fled abroad shortly before and after the 2016 coup attempt, those in lower ranks are believed to still be in hiding in safe houses.
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