Arrest warrants have been issued for 36 Turkish Air Force Command officers yesterday, including six pilots, following an investigation by the Ankara Public Prosecutor's Office into the covert communications between military members and Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) operatives. The Anadolu agency reported that 33 of the suspects are senior lieutenants while three are lieutenants.
Following the decision by the court in the capital Ankara, police launched simultaneous operations in 18 provinces to capture the suspects. FETÖ, which expanded its clout in Turkey over the past three decades, is known for its wide network of infiltrators in Turkey's law enforcement, military, judiciary and bureaucracy. With its police and judiciary infiltrators, it first tried to topple the government in 2013 by implicating people close to the government in an anti-graft probe with trumped-up evidence and false charges. Then, on July 15, 2016, weeks before a military council would decide on the fate of FETÖ-linked officers, it tried to seize power again.
An unprecedented public resistance helped anti-coup police and troops fight back, but the putschists killed 251 people and wounded hundreds of others in nationwide attacks - from the bombing of the presidential complex in Ankara to an assault on a group of unarmed civilians who had gathered on Istanbul's Bosporus Bridge (now known as the July 15 Martyrs Bridge) to confront the putschists who were trying to take over the city's main transportation route.
Since the coup attempt was quelled, Turkey has detained tens of thousands of people linked to the attempt and hundreds are on trial for direct involvement in the attempt. Most trials are expected to wrap up by the end of this year.
The Justice Ministry recently announced that there were 32,370 people being held and incarcerated in FETÖ cases and 289 trials directly related to the coup attempt. Some 203 trials have already been concluded. A total of 2,619 people have been found guilty and 1,760 others have been sentenced to life imprisonment in coup trials held across the country so far.
A total of 803 of the accused, including a general and commissioned and noncommissioned officers, were sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Some 957 others were sentenced to life imprisonment with 859 sentenced to prison terms ranging from one year and two months to 20 years.
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