An Istanbul court on Friday sentenced 10 former officers to life and aggravated life imprisonment for their role in the Istanbul part of the nationwide 2016 coup bid blamed on the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).
Two soldiers were handed down aggravated life imprisonment and eight others were sentenced to life. All of them former military officers, defendants are accused of an attempt to shut down a main toll road on the city's European side during the July 15, 2016 coup bid. The putsch attempt, blamed on infiltrators of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) in the military, has killed 249 people across the country. The court also acquitted 26 other defendants who were earlier released pending trial.
The highest ranking among the defendants were Major Enver Muratoğlu, who was deputy commander of an armored battalion stationed in Istanbul. Along with him, First Lieutenant Serhat Serdar Bank was sentenced to aggravated life imprisonment for "attempt to overthrow the constitutional order." Those acquitted were low-ranking soldiers and conscripts.
Muratoğlu, who denied coup charges, has claimed in earlier hearings that they were dispatched to Mahmutbey district of the toll road "against an expected terror attack" upon orders by his superiors, a common defense among officers involved in the putsch attempt in other trials. Eyewitnesses have told the court that Muratoğlu confessed to police when he surrendered that he was a putschist and a FETÖ member and tried to stop traffic on the city's European side. He was also accused of attending a meeting of pro-coup officers at the military base he was deployed at one day before the coup bid. The former major had commanded soldiers in a military convoy about the same time as the takeover of a main Istanbul bridge by putschists. However, anti-coup police units had managed to block them by parking large trucks in their path. When the putschists took another route, they faced a crowd of anti-coup civilians who tried to convince them to lay down arms. The defendants had surrendered later when police and civilians surrounded them. Dozens of coup trials are underway all across the country since December 2016 and hundreds of pro-coup officers were sentenced to life or lesser sentences in trials. After the coup attempt was quelled, authorities detained or arrested thousands, mainly military officers, linked to the group.