70 former air force cadets handed life terms in Turkey coup trial

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Istanbul – An Istanbul court on Friday sentenced 70 Turkish Air Force cadets to life for their role a 2016 coup attempt.
“However, 55 of the cadets were tried absentia as they are believed to have fled abroad,’’ state news agency Anadolu reported.
According to Anadolu, the trial involves a total of 72 suspects, of whom only 15 were present at the hearing.
“They were charged violating the constitution.
“Istanbul’s chief prosecutor had sought aggravated life sentences for all the accused,’’ Anadolu said.
Aggravated life sentences are the harshest terms Turkey since it abolished the death penalty in 2002, as there is no chance for parole.
according to the prosecutor, the cadets, based Yalova outside Istanbul, were “ordered to drive” to Istanbul at 10:15 pm on July 15, 2016, carrying ammunition.
Of the 72, two men driving the cadets were not sentenced.
Turkey blames U.S.-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen for the attempted coup by a faction of the military.
Gulen has denied any role the putsch, which left 251 dead and 2,000 injured.
The shadow of 2016 is ever present Turkey as weekly raids and arrests continue of those allegedly linked to the coup plotters, as do trials.
In the post-2016 backlash, tens of thousands were purged from the police, and judiciary.
Civil servants, academics and journalists were also sacked and media houses shut down. (dpa/NAN)