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Turkish court sentences hundreds to life imprisonment over unproven coup claims

HUNDREDS of military and civilian personnel at a Turkish airbase were sentenced to life imprisonment today for allegedly being guilty of involvement in a failed coup attempt. 

A total of 475 defendants, including some generals and fighter-jet pilots at the Akinci airbase just outside the capital Ankara, had been on trial for the past three years, accused of directing the 2016 coup and bombing key government buildings, including a section of Turkey’s parliament.

The father of a convicted trainee pilot, Alper Kalin, said that the court had failed to consider evidence suggesting that some trainee pilots were innocent.

“We are not happy with this verdict. We will carry this to the appropriate places,” said Ali Kalin.

The mass trial was one of two against supposed followers of Fethullah Gulen, leader of a religious sect, who the government has accused of orchestrating the coup attempt. 

Since the 2016 coup, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has thrown accusations of involvement in Gulen’s movement at individuals in opposition to the government, as well as more than 100,000 public-sector workers, in a crackdown to eliminate resistance to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rule.

In many instances, no evidence was provided and courts have issued more than 2,500 life sentences.

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