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Turkey sentences dozens to life over coup deaths

Turkey has waged a vast crackdown on suspected coup plotters since July 2016 [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 July, 2018

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A Turkish court handed the suspects life prison terms over the deaths of 41 people on an Istanbul bridge during the 2016 coup attempt.
A Turkish court on Thursday handed life prison terms to dozens of suspects in a trial over the deadly clashes on an Istanbul bridge during the July 15, 2016 failed coup, state media reported. 

The bridge across the Bosphorus in Istanbul - now renamed the July 15 Martyrs' Bridge - was the scene of bloody fighting between Erdogan's supporters and renegade soldiers seeking to oust the government.

The court in Silivri outside Istanbul sentenced 72 suspects, including former lieutenant colonel Turgay Odemis, to life in jail on charges of "attempting to overthrow the constitutional order," the Anadolu news agency reported.

The judge handed 22 suspects jail terms of 17 years and seven months each, and five suspects 15 years each on charges of "aiding" an attempt to overthrow the consitutional order, according to the news agency.

Thirty-four civilians and seven coup plotters were killed on the bridge, according to the indictment.

In addition, 12 suspects were given life terms for "premeditated murder" in the case over the killing of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's campaign manager Erol Olcok and his 16-year-old son Abdullah Tayyip. 

Both were killed when soldiers opened fire on protesters on the bridge. Olcok had named his son after Erdogan and his predecessor as president, Abdullah Gul.

Hundreds of court cases are in progress across the country against the alleged perpetrators of the coup, with dozens of life sentences already handed to the top suspects.

The latest court verdict comes after Erdogan secured an outright victory in 24 June presidential elections with sweeping new powers. 

The government has launched a vast crackdown on coup plotters in the wake of the coup bid under the state of emergency, with Erdogan vowing to purge of state institutions to clean the "virus" of US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who Ankara blames for masterminding the coup attempt.

In his election campaign, Erdogan promised to lift the state of emergency which has now lasted almost two years. The state of emergency's latest extension is due to elapse on 18 July.

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