Key trial on FETÖ coup attempt concludes this week

YÜKSEL TEMEL
ANKARA
Published 18.06.2019 00:00

A trial where 224 defendants are being tried for the July 15, 2016 coup attempt is expected to conclude Thursday when a court in the capital Ankara announces its verdict.

Defendants, including members of the putschist Peace At Home Council, are accused of taking over the army's headquarters, the Office of the Chief of General Staff, during the coup attempt by military infiltrators of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). The defendants are accused both of the coup attempts and killing 251 people and face 252 instances of aggravated life imprisonment each in addition to prison terms adding up to 55,880 years.

The trial started on May 22, 2017, in a high-security prison complex which includes a courtroom specifically set up for coup attempt suspects. Among the notable defendants are Akın Öztürk, a general who served as the former head of Turkish Air Forces, and Gökhan Şahin Sönmezateş, a former brigadier general who was earlier convicted of leading a team of assassins tasked with murdering President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during the coup attempt. Öztürk is accused of heading the Peace at Home Council, which coordinated the actions of putschists across Turkey and the killing of 251 people, is accused of injuring hundreds of others resisting the coup attempt.

Prosecutors have accused defendants of violating constitutional order as well as involvement in an assassination attempt targeting Erdoğan. The first accusation carries aggravated life imprisonment. Prosecutors have also asked for a separate trial for 13 fugitive defendants, including FETÖ leader Fetullah Gülen who currently resides in Pennsylvania, U.S.

After a short pause for a holiday break, Turkish courts are resuming the trials of 1,626 defendants linked to FETÖ this month. New hearings are being held in 26 trials in nine cities on FETÖ and its 2016 coup attempt. Nine trials are about the coup attempt, while the rest are related to other crimes the group was involved in. A total of 1,002 defendants will be tried in hearings related to the putsch bid.

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