A prosecutor asked yesterday an Istanbul court to punish 125 Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) members, accused of involvement in the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, with aggravated life imprisonment.
The Prosecutor Eray Akkavak also requested a separate trial for another defendant who remains at large.
The defendants included officers who took over the command of headquarters of Warfare Academies Command that oversees a chain of prestigious military schools. They were also accused of abduction of Gen. Tahir Bekiroğlu, the head of Warfare Academies Command, during the coup attempt that killed 250 people across the country.
The hearing was held at a prison-courthouse complex in Istanbul's Silivri district. Some 124 defendants, and lawyers representing President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was targeted by the putschists during the coup attempt, were present at the hearing, which was the last before the court starts a new set of hearings to hear the final pleas of the defendants.
The prosecutor summed up the actions of the putschists on July 15, from a sweep of the military base by putschists that houses the headquarters to capture anti-coup officers, to the abduction of Bekiroğlu, who was held at a military prison for hours before the coup attempt was thwarted.
Among the defendants, charged with the coup attempt that carries aggravated life imprisonment sentence, are Gen. Selim Mert, who was head of Warfare Academy for Land Forces and two generals who served at the Warfare Academies Command.
The prosecutor also asked for an additional fifteen years in prison for the defendants because of their membership of a terrorist group, in reference to FETÖ.
After the coup failed in the face of an unprecedented show of public resistance in Turkish history, tens of thousands have been detained or arrested for suspected involvement in the coup attempt. The first coup trials began in December 2016 and several high-ranking military officers have already been sentenced to life in prison.
FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen, who currently lives in Pennsylvania, U.S., is the prime suspect in the coup cases and faces life imprisonment. However, Gülen has not returned to Turkey to attend the trials and Ankara has been actively seeking his extradition from the U.S.
Posing as a religious charity, his Hizmet (service) movement infiltrated Turkey's judiciary, police, bureaucracy and military for decades. In 2013, the group tried to seize power through its followers in the judiciary and law enforcement, under the guise of graft probes targeting the government. Following a crackdown, it moved to seize power again in 2016, in a plot allegedly conceived by Adil Öksüz, a fugitive theology lecturer who acted as Gülen's right-hand man in the coup attempt.
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