40 coup suspects face life sentences

Published 19.02.2019 00:06

Ahead of a hearing for closing arguments, the prosecutor asked for aggravated life sentences for 40 defendants in a case related to the July 15, 2016 coup attempt that left 251 people dead.

In the hearing held in the capital Ankara Monday, the court heard the final request of the prosecutor about former Brigadier General Ahmet Bican Kırker and 39 others accused of the takeover of the Military School for Armored Units during the coup attempt.

Kırker, a member of the putschists' so-called "Peace At Home Council" - which planned to take over control in Turkey had the attempt succeeded, is separately accused of the murder of Emin Güner and causing injury to Nejmettin Utuş. Güner, a 46-year-old businessman, was among the crowd who tried to stop putschists from seizing the headquarters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) during the coup attempt of military infiltrators of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ).

Güner climbed on a tank and tried to stop it but fell off after traveling on top of it for over 4 kilometers. He died of the injuries he sustained from the fall. Güner was among thousands who took to the streets during the coup attempt following calls from the country's leaders to confront the putschists. Nejmettin Utuş, a retired policeman who was photographed atop a tank in the same place where Güner was killed, was injured when a putschist officer inside the tank fired at him. The hearing was adjourned to April for final pleas by defendants.

Prosecutors say Ahmet Bican Kırker was "appointed" as head of the military school, which trained tank crews for the Turkish Armed Forces, by putschists and took over the school with fellow putschists. The indictment against him says Kırker ordered tanks to go to military bases in Ankara "to provide protection against terror attacks" as other defendants in the case claimed. Instead, tanks went to other locations, including AK Party headquarters, as part of plans by the coup plotters.

Since the coup attempt was thwarted thanks to a strong public resistance, Turkey launched trials for hundreds of officers caught red-handed in the coup bid. The majority of the coup trials have concluded with hundreds of officers handed life sentences but a few, including those with a large number of defendants, are still underway.

FETÖ, known for its widespread infiltration in the military, law enforcement, judiciary and bureaucracy, faced an escalated crackdown following the coup attempt orchestrated by Adil Öksüz, a high-ranking member of FETÖ. Tens of thousands were detained, arrested or dismissed from their public sector jobs, while the courts ordered the seizure of a large number of companies associated with the terrorist group.

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