Three putschists sentenced to life in Ağrı

Three putschists sentenced to life in Ağrı

A court in the eastern city of Ağrı sentenced three former military officers to aggravated life imprisonment yesterday for their role in the July 15, 2016 coup blamed on Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) infiltrators in the military.

Maj. Türker Şahin, Capt. Kaya Akarpa and 1st Lt. Salim Arabacı, who were dismissed from the army and arrested after the coup bid, were among eight on trial for the coup attempt in Ağrı. Other defendants, all specialist sergeants, were acquitted in the case.

The verdict comes about two weeks after a former general and nine officers were sentenced to life in another trial held in the city.

During the coup attempt, pro-coup troops issued an ultimatum to civilian administrators to hand over authority to them in the city, which lies on the border with Iran. The governor and other officials rejected it, and putschists had to step back when a large crowd of unarmed civilians surrounded the governorate in a bid to protect anti-coup officials. Elsewhere, 249 people were killed across Turkey during the resistance to the putschists.

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 on the takeover of the office of the Chief of General Staff, in which 221 defendants are being tried, 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.