Turkey court sentences 121 to life in coup trial

Turkey says US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, above, ordered the failed 2016 coup. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 26 June 2020

Turkey court sentences 121 to life in coup trial

  • Ankara court sentences 86 suspects to ‘aggravated’ life imprisonment
  • Turkey says US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen ordered the failed 2016 coup

ANKARA: A Turkish court on Friday handed down life sentences to 121 people for taking part in the 2016 attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, state media reported.
The court in Ankara sentenced 86 suspects to “aggravated” life imprisonment for “attempting to violate the constitution” while 35 individuals were given life sentences for the same crime, the official Anadolu news agency said.
An aggravated life sentence has tougher terms of detention. It was brought in to replace the death penalty which Turkey abolished in 2004 as part of its drive to join the EU.
A total of 245 suspects were on trial in the case related to events at the Gendarmerie General Command on the night of July 15, 2016 in the Turkish capital.
Another suspect, former colonel Erkan Oktem, was given nine aggravated life sentences for “willful murder,” Anadolu reported.
The failed coup left 248 people dead, excluding 24 putschists killed that night.
Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul last week said 15 coup-related trials continued out of a total of 289 in what is the biggest legal process in Turkey’s modern history.
After a three-month break because of the coronavirus pandemic, trials in Turkey resumed this month including the main coup trial focused on events at an air base in Ankara seen as the putschists’ hub.
That trial began in 2017 and is expected to be completed soon.
Turkey says US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen ordered the failed coup, a claim he strongly denies.
Tens of thousands of people have been arrested over alleged links to Gulen, while over 100,000 have been sacked or suspended from the public sector due to similar suspicions.


Iran’s president warns lockdowns could lead to protests

Updated 2 min 9 sec ago

Iran’s president warns lockdowns could lead to protests

  • Rouhani's government is grappling with a resurgence in Iranian coronavirus cases
  • Earlier this week, the country reported 221 fatalities in a 24-hour period, the highest single-day death toll.

TEHRAN: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday that lockdowns meant to curb the spread of the pandemic could lead to street protests over economic problems, his website reported.
In a regular Cabinet meeting on the coronavirus, Rouhani said the easiest way to fight the virus is to close off all activities. But “then people come and stage protests because of chaos, famine and problems,” he said.
Confirmed virus cases and deaths reached a record low in May after mass lockdowns were imposed in Iran. But since then, the numbers have spiked again, with officials saying a combination of improved testing and re-openings has driven the surge.
Rouhani urged that ceremonies be held with a limited number of participants. Many experts blame an increase in virus-related deaths over the past week on wedding and funeral ceremonies with large crowds.
Ali Reza Zali, the head of Tehran’s virus task force, in a letter to officials banned any conferences, festivals or exhibitions and limited participants in wedding and funeral ceremonies to 10.
Earlier this week, Iran reported 221 fatalities in a 24-hour period, the highest single-day death toll.
Rouhani’s remarks came as many experts urged a halt to business activities to stop the increase in virus related deaths that have exceeded 12,600 out of 255,117 confirmed cases.
Iranian officials have been particularly eager to remove restrictions on its economy, already crippled by sanctions the US imposed after the Trump administration’s 2018 withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement.
A sharp rise in subsidized gasoline prices led to four days of unrest in cities and towns across Iran in November, which rights group Amnesty International said led to more than 300 people being killed in clashes with police and security forces.
Tehran has yet to release any official statistics about the scale of the unrest, though in June the government acknowledged that the security forces shot and killed protesters and a lawmaker said that 230 people were killed in the anti-government protests.