Turkey Sentences 40 to Life in Coup Attempt Against Erdogan


A former political ally of Mr. Erdogan’s, Mr. Gulen fell out with the president in 2013 over accusations of corruption. Since the coup attempt thousands of his followers have been imprisoned and Turkey has demanded his extradition from Pennsylvania.

Mr. Gulen was among those indicted in the Marmaris case, but no verdict was reached on the charges against him or two others also being tried in absentia. The judge announced that their trial will continue, news agencies reported.

The Marmaris case is one of personal interest to the Turkish president. It is the only case in which he has formally applied to be considered as an interested party.

Two police officers were killed in the attack at the resort. Mr. Erdogan has said he received a warning about the coup attempt and left the hotel. He arrived by plane in his home city of Istanbul at about the same time the rogue commandos arrived at the Marmaris hotel.

Among those sentenced Wednesday were Brig. Gen. Gokhan Sonmezates, who was accused of planning the Marmaris attack, Maj. Sukru Seymen of the Special Forces, who led it, and Petty Officer Zekeriya Kuzu, who found hiding in a cave days after the coup attempt. All were given aggravated life sentences, the toughest penalty under Turkish criminal law.

The death penalty was abolished in 2002 under judicial reforms made by Turkey while negotiating for entry to the European Union, but supporters of Mr. Erdogan and relatives of those who died in the coup attempt have called for it be reinstated to punish those responsible.

In the Marmaris case, 37 of the 46 defendants were special forces commandos. One officer was acquitted, 40 received life sentences, and two others received lesser sentences: a former military aide to Mr. Erdogan received a sentence of 18 years and another officer 15 years.

During the trial, which took place in the town of Mugla, some defendants admitted to taking part in the coup but denied trying to assassinate the president. Major Seymen, the commander of the attack, said in testimony on the first day of the trial that the aim was to detain Mr. Erdogan.

“I did participate in a coup, but not an assassination attempt,” he said, according to Turkish press reports. “General Sonmezates gave me the order. The order was to capture the president alive.”

The major expressed his regret that two police officers were killed in the clash that night.

Some defendants complained that the trial was unfair, and said they were victims of a power struggle.

“Words don’t mean anything here, as we didn’t have the chance to a fair trial,” one defendant, Gokhan Sen, said, Reuters reported. “We are just the grass that elephants trampled on during their fight.”

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