Turkish court sentences 72 defendants to life in coup bridge trial

A man covered with blood points at the Bosphorus bridge as Turkish military clashed with people at the entrance to the bridge in Istanbul on July 16, 2016. (Bulent Kilic/AFP)
Updated 12 July 2018
0

Turkish court sentences 72 defendants to life in coup bridge trial

  • 72 defendants jailed for life for their roles in clashes on a suspension bridge in Istanbul in which 34 people
  • The verdicts come as the country prepares to commemorate the anniversary of the failed coup

ISTANBUL: A Turkish court sentenced 72 defendants to life in prison on Thursday for their roles in clashes on a suspension bridge in Istanbul in which 34 people were killed during an attempted coup two years ago, according to state-run Anadolu agency.
More verdicts are expected to be issued for 71 other defendants in the case. Defendants were charged with deliberately killing civilians who heeded a call from President Tayyip Erdogan to challenge the coup plotters on the bridge across the Bosphorus Strait.
The verdicts come as the country prepares to commemorate the anniversary of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt on Sunday, and Erdogan celebrates his recent election as the first head of the country’s all-powerful executive presidency.
Renamed the “July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge,” the bridge was a flashpoint for clashes on the night of the coup. Victims included Erol Olcok, an advertiser who ran political campaigns for Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, and his 17-year-old son.
The coup attempt prompted an extensive crackdown against soldiers, civil servants, and academics suspected of links to the Muslim cleric whom Turkey blames for the abortive putsch. Turkey has detained 160,000 people and dismissed nearly the same number of civil servants since the failed coup, the UN human rights office said in March.
Turkish media have been flooded with commemorative programming about the coup attempt. Television channels have been airing footage of soldiers who participated in the coup surrendering, stripped of their clothes and weapons, and headscarved women squaring off against tanks in the street.


Buses arrive to ferry Syria rebels out of zone near Golan

Updated 12 min 47 sec ago
0

Buses arrive to ferry Syria rebels out of zone near Golan

  • The transfers come under a surrender deal agreed this week between Russia and Syrian rebels in Quneitra province
  • Rebels will hand over territory they control in Quneitra and the neighboring buffer zone with the Israeli-occupied Golan

BEIRUT: Buses were gathering on Friday in a southwestern sliver of Syria near the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights to transfer rebel fighters and civilians to opposition territory further north, a monitor said.
The transfers come under a surrender deal agreed this week between Russia and Syrian rebels in Quneitra province that will see the sensitive zone fall back under state control.
Rebels will hand over territory they control in Quneitra and the neighboring buffer zone with the Israeli-occupied Golan, a war monitor and a rebel source told AFP.
The deal included safe passage to northern Syria for any hard-liners who refuse to live under government control, and buses began entering the area Friday to carry out the transfers, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“The buses reached government-controlled territory in Quneitra on Thursday, and today they began crossing into opposition areas for the evacuation,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.
He said it remained unclear how many fighters and civilians would ultimately be evacuated, but that the buses would likely be picking up people from multiple locations in Quneitra and the adjacent buffer.
A rebel source told AFP that the evacuations were expected to begin around mid-morning on Friday.
Quneitra is a thin, crescent-shaped province wedged between the buffer to the west and the Syrian province of Daraa to its east.
One month ago, Syria’s regime launched an operation to retake rebel areas in Daraa and Quneitra, using military force and surrender deals brokered by its Russian ally.
Fighting forced several hundred thousand people to flee, and as many as 140,000 remain displaced in Quneitra, according to the United Nations.
The UN’s humanitarian coordination office (OCHA) warned they are inaccessible to aid organizations based around an hour away in Damascus because of a lack of approvals.
Both Israel and Jordan, which shares a border with Syria, have kept their borders closed to the displaced.
Israel seized 1,200 square kilometers (460 square miles) of the Golan from Syria in 1967 and later annexed it, in a move never recognized internationally.