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
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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.


Lebanon to form body to probe civil war disappearances

Updated 12 November 2018
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Lebanon to form body to probe civil war disappearances

  • The long-awaited law would empower an independent national commission to gather information about the missing
  • Families and rights groups have been campaigning for the law since 2012, when it first went to parliament

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament on Monday approved the formation of an independent commission to help determine the fate of thousands of people who went missing during the country’s civil war, which ended nearly three decades ago.
The long-awaited law would empower an independent national commission to gather information about the missing, collect DNA samples and exhume mass graves from the 1975-1990 conflict.
Families and rights groups have been campaigning for the law since 2012, when it first went to parliament.
“This is the first step toward giving closure to families of the missing hopefully,” said Rona Halabi, spokeswoman for the International Committee for the Red Cross. “This represents a milestone for the families who have waited for years to have answers.”
The Hague-based International Commission on Missing Persons says more than 17,000 people are estimated to have gone missing during the Lebanese civil war.
Lebanon’s National News Agency said lawmakers approved the law after voting on each of its 38 articles.
LBC TV said lawmakers initially protested, saying calls for accountability may affect current officials. The broadcaster said they were reassured the 1991 amnesty for abuses committed by militias during the war remains in place.
Many of Lebanon’s political parties are led by former warlords implicated in some of the civil war’s worst fighting.
“For the first time after the war, Lebanon enters a genuine reconciliation phase, to heal the wounds and give families the right to know,” Gebran Bassil, the country’s foreign minister tweeted.
The ICRC began compiling DNA samples from relatives of the disappeared in 2016 and has interviewed more than 2,000 families to help a future national commission.
DNA samples have been stored with the Lebanese Internal Security Forces and the ICRC. The law would allow Lebanese security forces to take part in the sample collection.