The families of people killed by putschists and those who survived the gunfire of pro-coup troops on July 15, 2016 hailed the multiple life sentences handed down to the perpetrators in the main trial.
More than 150 people, including coup leaders, were sentenced to life Thursday in the main trial for the coup attempt by military infiltrators of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) in a hearing in the capital Ankara.
The verdict in this most significant trial for the coup bid that killed 251 people was the harshest in a string of ongoing trials on the attempt. The head of the coup plotters' Peace at Home Council, former Gen. Akın Öztürk, and other putschist generals were sentenced for the takeover of the army's headquarters and killing 139 civilians that confronted the putschists.
Nuray Anar, whose husband Ali Anar was killed by putschists in the Kahramankazan district of the capital, said the verdict was "a bittersweet occasion" for her. "Life sentences were the least they could have. It won't bring back our martyrs," she said. Anar said her husband and others defended the country that night, and putschists took him from his family. "I will never forgive them," she said.
Nihat Takdemir, father of Ömer Takdemir, who was killed in Akıncı air base, the command center of the coup attempt, while confronting the putschists, said the ruling was "good news from Turkish judiciary." "Those traitors who took our loved ones got what they deserved. My young son was there that night to defend our homeland, but those traitors did not discriminate while firing on people. They didn't care. I am the father of a martyr and all I asked was to see those responsible for his murder receive the heaviest sentence. Finally, it is real," he said.
Cengiz Öztürk, who was injured by putschists outside Akıncı, said "justice prevailed." "We always believed in Turkish justice, and we are relieved to see that those traitors will pay for what they've done," he said.
Dilek Yılmaz, the wife of Hasan Yılmaz, who was killed at Akıncı by putschists, said she has been mourning Hasan for four years and visits his grave with their children every week. "These people may stay in prison till the end of their lives, but they will still be able to see their families. My children can never do that now. Still, the sentences comforted us a little," she said.
Haydar Ünal, who was injured at Akıncı, said the verdict was "what he expected." "They will never walk out of prison. They failed at what they wanted to do, and we will never allow Turkey to surrender to anyone trying to divide it," he said.
Hulusi Akar, the former chief of general staff who was the main target of putschists, also commented on the verdict. Now serving as minister of defense, Akar said during a graduation ceremony for Special Forces soldiers on Friday that "the traitors got the punishment they deserved."