After a 12-day break, the trial of 159 defendants, accused of taking over Istanbul's Atatürk Airport during the 2016 coup attempt, resumed yesterday in the city's 34th High Criminal Court.
Defendants, all military officers, are accused of illegally occupying the airport, a strategic location, on July 15, 2016, on behalf of the so-called Peace At Home Council, which compromised of putschists. Putschists linked to Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) killed 251 people and injured hundreds of others before the attempt was quelled by strong public resistance. Defendants in the Istanbul trial are charged with the killing of two people during the coup attempt.
Sixty-two defendants, including 45 who are still being jailed, attended yesterday's hearing inside a courthouse-prison complex in Istanbul's Silivri district. Most of the other defendants are fugitives.
In the hearings expected to continue throughout the week, defendants will make their final statements after prosecutors asked for prison sentences for them in earlier hearings.
Prosecutors ask for aggravated life sentences for 150 defendants including four colonels, a lieutenant-colonel and two majors. Only five defendants do not face jail terms as prosecutors say they did not deliberately join the coup attempt like their superiors. Other defendants face life sentences and additional prison sentences for the coup attempt and murders. The coup attempt is blamed on the military infiltrators of FETÖ that tried to overthrow the government ahead of a planned purge of its infiltrators in the army in 2016.
The airport was one of the first places putschists sought to capture and a large crowd of unarmed civilians flocked to the airport upon hearing a coup was underway. The footage from security cameras at the airport was made public in an earlier hearing and shows putschists firing upon police officers trying to stop them and soldiers surrendering to the police who confronted them in the late hours of July 15, 2016.