Prosecutors in trials of putschists involved in the July 15, 2016 coup attempt asked for life sentences and aggravated life imprisonment for 117 defendants in Monday's hearings where they presented their pleas to the courts before the verdicts.
The defendants are accused of takeover over police headquarters and the municipality, as well as a main road in Istanbul and occupying the data center of a main telecoms provider in Gebze, a town neighboring Istanbul.
The coup attempt, blamed on infiltrators of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) in the military, killed 250 people, mostly in Istanbul and the capital Ankara. Istanbul was at the heart of the resistance against the putschists who opened fire on unarmed crowds, killing dozens on a bridge connecting the city's two sides as well as in other venues.
In the trial of 67 people involved in occupying the main police headquarters and killing five people trying to stop putschists en route to the headquarters, the prosecutor asked the court to sentence 21 defendants to aggravated life imprisonment. Along with soldiers, Mithat Aynacı, a former police chief, will be imprisoned for life if convicted. Aynacı was found in an armored military carrier outside police headquarters when the coup attempt was thwarted. He was among police chiefs linked to FETÖ who personally helped the putschists on July 15, 2016, in the takeover of strategic locations across Turkey.
The prosecutor in the trial of 50 defendants accused of attempting to occupy Istanbul city hall, asked all to be sentenced to multiple aggravated life imprisonment for their role in the coup attempt and killing 14 people. Civilians, who flocked to the municipality building upon calls by country's leaders to confront the putschists, were gunned down by troops. The prosecutor also asked for additional prison terms for the defendants for injuring 182 people. In another trial in Istanbul, 36 putschists who occupied Kartal Overpass, a main road on the city's Asian side, will be handed down aggravated life imprisonment if convicted. The prosecutor says they should be convicted of "overthrowing the constitutional order" and injuring 36 people. Separately, the prosecutor in the trial of 10 defendants accused of trying to cut off telecommunications by shutting down a data center they occupied in Gebze, a town east of Istanbul, asked for aggravated life imprisonment for the defendants. Courts will now hear final defenses of the defendants and verdict hearings are expected to wrap up in the coming months.
Elsewhere, a court in Ankara heard the defense of Tanju Poshor, a colonel accused of commanding a team of putschists who invaded the Ankara headquarters of public broadcaster TRT. Poshor, originally stationed in Kosovo, was in the capital at the time of the coup attempt. He claimed it was "a coincidence" that he was in the capital at the time, adding he went to TRT after a fellow colonel, who is among jailed putschists, told him that the TV network faced a possible terror attack. He insisted he did not know that it was a coup attempt and claimed someone on broadcast staff told him that he would "help" them "if they overthrow the government."
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