Turkey orders life jail for 104 suspects over coup bid


Ankara (AFP)

A Turkish court on Monday handed life sentences to 104 suspects over their involvement in the July 2016 attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, state media reported.

The former military personnel were given "aggravated life sentences" by a court in the western province of Izmir, state news agency Anadolu said, for "attempting to overthrow the constitutional order".

Such jail sentences, which replaced the death penalty in Turkey, carry harsher conditions than normal life sentences.

In total, 280 military staff are on trial over the failed coup bid.

Among the suspects receiving life sentences were former air force chief of staff lieutenant general Hasan Huseyin Demiraslan and ex-Aegean army command chief of staff major general Memduh Hakbilen.

The court gave 21 suspects a 20-year jail sentence for "assisting the assassination of the president" while 31 were given sentences between seven years and six months and 10 years and six months for being a member of an armed terror group, the agency added.

There was an alleged plot to kill Erdogan on the night of the coup while he was on holiday in the Aegean resort of Marmaris with his family. The president has said the plot left him 15 minutes from death.

The attempted putsch claimed more than 240 lives, according to the Turkish presidency, not including 24 coup-plotters killed on the night.

More than 2,000 people were injured.

Ankara accuses US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen of ordering the failed putsch, accusations which he strongly denies.

Turkish authorities say the movement Gulen runs is a terrorist organisation, but his group insists it promotes peace and moderate Islam.

Following the attempted coup, more than 50,000 people have been arrested and 140,000 public workers have been sacked or suspended over alleged links to Gulen or Kurdish militants under the state of emergency imposed in July 2016.

Turkey has come under heavy criticism from its Western allies and activists over the scale of the crackdown and repeated calls for the emergency to come to an end.