Turkey sentences 24 to life in ‘coup ringleaders’ trial

People walk by Istanbul's courthouse on March 26, 2019, during the trial of a US consulate staffer accused of spying and attempting to overthrow the government. (AFP)
Updated 20 June 2019

Turkey sentences 24 to life in ‘coup ringleaders’ trial

  • Of the 24 on trial, 17 received 141 aggravated life terms
  • The trial began in May 2017

SINCAN, Turkey: A Turkish court on Thursday gave life sentences to 24 people in one of the biggest trials over the 2016 failed bid to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, state media reported.

Of the 24, the judge gave 17 accused 141 aggravated life terms each over the deaths of 139 people, for “violating the constitution” and “attempting to assassinate the president,” state news agency Anadolu reported.

Such sentences carry harsher prison conditions.

Former air force chief Akin Ozturk and Mehmet Disli, the brother of former ruling party lawmaker Saban Disli, who since September has served as Turkey’s ambassador to the Netherlands, were among the 17.

There was a tense atmosphere minutes before the judge issued his verdicts with dozens of people including relatives of those killed during the coup bid in July 2016, lambasting the court for not allowing them to enter.

Saliha Arigan, whose son was killed on the night of the failed overthrow, pressed herself against the gates, crying and shouting to be allowed inside.

“The state should be ashamed,” she said. Even as the verdicts were handed down, the strained mood continued with further attempts by individuals to enter the courtroom complex by force.

An AFP correspondent was not allowed to enter the courtroom by police.

The trial began in May 2017 in the country’s largest courtroom inside a prison complex in Sincan, outside the capital Ankara.

The court also handed down an aggravated life sentence for “violating the constitution” to Col. Ali Yazici, Erdogan’s former military aide, Anadolu reported.

Yazici was sentenced before to 18 years in jail in 2017 after a trial of dozens who plotted to assassinate Erdogan at a luxury Aegean hotel during the coup attempt.

More verdicts are expected from the trial.

Among the total 224 suspects on trial in Sincan over the coup bid was US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Turkey accuses of ordering the attempted putsch.

Gulen, who strongly denies the claims, is being tried in absentia as Turkey has failed to secure his extradition.

The judge ordered the case of 13 fugitives including Gulen to be separated from the main coup ringleaders’ trial.

The failed overthrow left 248 people dead, according to the Turkish presidency, not including 24 coup-plotters killed on the night.

Nearly 290 coup-linked court cases have been launched, 261 of which ended with 3,239 defendants convicted, according to justice ministry figures given to AFP before the verdicts.

Israeli PM vows to annex ‘all the settlements’ in West Bank

Updated 7 min 6 sec ago

Israeli PM vows to annex ‘all the settlements’ in West Bank

  • Netanyahu is fighting for his political survival
  • Israelis head to the polls Tuesday in the second election this year

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Monday to annex “all the settlements” in the West Bank, including an enclave deep in the heart of the largest Palestinian city, in a last-ditch move that appeared aimed at shoring up nationalist support the day before a do-over election.
Locked in a razor tight race and with legal woes hanging over him, Netanyahu is fighting for his political survival. In the final weeks of his campaign he has been doling out hard-line promises meant to draw more voters to his Likud party and re-elect him in Tuesday’s unprecedented repeat vote.
“I intend to extend sovereignty on all the settlements and the (settlement) blocs,” including “sites that have security importance or are important to Israel’s heritage,” Netanyahu said in an interview with Israeli Army Radio, part of an eleventh-hour media blitz.
Asked if that included the hundreds of Jews who live under heavy military guard amid tens of thousands of Palestinians in the volatile city of Hebron, Netanyahu responded “of course.”
Israelis head to the polls Tuesday in the second election this year, after Netanyahu failed to cobble together a coalition following April’s vote, sparking the dissolution of parliament.
Netanyahu has made a series of ambitious pledges in a bid to whip up support, including a promise to annex the Jordan Valley, an area even moderate Israelis view as strategic but which the Palestinians consider the breadbasket of any future state.
To protest that announcement, the Palestinian Authority held a Cabinet meeting in the Jordan Valley village of Fasayil on Monday, a day after Israel’s Cabinet met elsewhere in the valley.
“The Jordan Valley is part of Palestinian lands and any settlement or annexation is illegal,” Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said at the start of the meeting. “We will sue Israel in international courts for exploiting our land and we will continue our struggle against the occupation on the ground and in international forums.”
Critics contend that Netanyahu’s pledges, if carried out, would enflame the Middle East and eliminate any remaining Palestinian hope of establishing a separate state. His political rivals have dismissed his talk of annexation as an election ploy noting that he has refrained from annexing any territory during his more than a decade in power.
Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 war.
Over 2.5 million Palestinians now live in occupied territories, in addition to nearly 700,000 Jewish settlers. Israel already has annexed east Jerusalem in a move that is not internationally recognized. The international community, along with the Palestinians, overwhelmingly considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem illegal.
Tuesday’s vote will largely be a referendum on Netanyahu, who this year surpassed Israel’s founding prime minister as the country’s longest-serving leader.
He has cast himself as the only candidate capable of facing Israel’s myriad challenges. But his opponents say his legal troubles — including a recommendation by the attorney general to indict him on bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges — loom too large for him to carry on.