Three Dozen Sentenced to Life in Prison for Attempted Erdogan Assassination

Tillerson-criticizing-Erdogan

A Turkish court started issuing verdicts on Wednesday in the trial of some 40 soldiers accused of attempting to kill President Tayyip Erdogan during last year's coup, with the first defendants declared guilty and sentenced to life in prison.

The coup was beaten back, but 250 people were killed, more than 2,000 injured and the country's parliament was bombed in a traumatic episode that Turkey has yet to come to terms with.

Ali Yazıcı, Erdoğan's former military aide, was sentenced to 18 years in prison. "I hope these sentences will benefit everyone".

Thirty-four received "aggravated" life sentences, which lengthen the minimum sentence required for parole under Turkish law, while others were given normal life sentences or lesser sentences. One of the defendants was acquitted. Three additional people, including opposition leader Fethullah Gülen, were also on trial along with the former soldiers but the judge eventually separated their cases from the trial.

Protesters threw eggs and bottles at the police officers who were escorting the defendants to the court in Mugla. Others waved Turkish flags, blared a famous song praising Erdogan and called for a return to capital punishment.

"From the moment I was arrested at the air base on July 16, I was treated like a criminal", Ergun Sahin, a former air force lieutenant, told the court.

The defendants denied the charges against them during the trial and some complained of an unfair trial while making their final statements before the verdicts were delivered, according to state-run Anadolu Agency.

Erdogan's lawyer, who was present at the case, said that justice had been served.

The president stated: "Iran and Turkey do not accept separatism and the escalation of ethnic and religious disagreements designed by conspirators and foreigners for our region, and from the point of view of the two countries, Iraq and Syria are integrated countries and we will not accept changing the geographical boundaries under any condition". The placard reads: 'We want execution!'. More than 150,000 people have been sacked or suspended from their jobs and some 50,000 jailed.

A total of 47 defendants were on trial, 43 of whom have been held in detention during the 7-1/2 month hearing.

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