Three generals arrested for the July 15, 2016 coup attempt blamed on military infiltrators of Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) were sentenced to life imprisonment on Friday.
The Second High Criminal Court in the capital Ankara ordered aggravated life imprisonment for Metin İyidil, Hamza Koçyiğit and Lütfi İhsan Yanıkoğlu, while three other defendants including two generals were acquitted.
İyidil was the commander of a military unit in charge of training of Land Forces. Koçyiğit and Yanıkoğlu were deployed at the same unit which had its headquarters in Ankara. İyidil was accused of attempting to bring 700 commandos from a military unit in the western city of Isparta to Ankara to help putschists to take over the capital. His efforts failed.
İyidil's name was also found in an intelligence document discovered in a safe owned by Mehmet Partigöç, the putschist general from another trial. Partigöç, as a top officer in the army headquarters in Ankara, is accused of issuing a "martial law directive" to military units across Turkey in a bid to urge them to join the putschists. It is not clear how Partigöç obtained the intelligence document that points out to İyidil's connections to FETÖ.
FETÖ, which long disguised itself as a charity group, is known for planting infiltrators in the military, judiciary and law enforcement. After its efforts to topple the government through the police and judiciary failed in 2013, it activated its infiltrators in the armed forces in the summer of 2016. A total of 250 people were killed by putschists during the attempt.
İyidil was also accused of facilitating FETÖ's infiltration into the army while he was serving as head of a personnel recruitment department of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK). An indictment against the general, who was expelled from the army after the coup attempt, says he was in close contact with senior putschists, including Partigöç, before the attempt.
Ankara was at the heart of the coup attempt as it is also the headquarters of the TSK. Putschists had kidnapped General Hulusi Akar, the Chief of the General Staff and other top military brass opposing them in Ankara and used an air base as a launchpad for airstrikes targeting the parliament, an anti-coup crowd gathered outside the presidential complex, as well as the headquarters of the Special Operations police, among other strategic locations. Over 600 people were convicted in coup trials in the city since February 2017.
The 17th Criminal Court of Ankara earlier gave life sentences to five former soldiers for kidnapping Kamil Başoğlu, commander of the Doctrine Command where İyidil and others sentenced on Friday were serving.
Thousands of people were detained or arrested since the coup attempt and major trials including those accused of commanding the putschists across the country are still underway.
The terrorist group faced a crackdown following the coup attempt, with security forces carrying out almost daily operations to capture the suspects. The Chief Prosecutor's Office in Ankara issued detention warrants for 12 majors and 20 captains at the army's Gendarmerie Command. Eighteen suspects were detained on Friday. Suspects were detected by investigators after they contacted "secret imams", FETÖ's civilian point men for its infiltrators of the army. The prosecutor's office also issued arrest warrants for 48 former employees of schools run by the terrorist group. Many schools were closed for their links to the group. Elsewhere, five colonels who were among 21 suspects earlier detained for links to the terrorist group were released after they invoked the "remorse law." The law allows suspects to be freed or handed down lenient sentences if they cooperate with authorities and supply information about the terrorist group.