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Turkey issues life sentence for former soldiers involved attempted coup

A Turkish court has jailed for life 22 former soldiers for their involvement in a coup attempt that sought to overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. 

A mass trial which concluded on Wednesday investigated nearly 500 soldiers and identified the ex-military personnel as guilty.

The putsch attempt in 2016 involved a raid on the chief state media broadcaster in which the newscaster was forced to read out a statement from the military junta leaders.

The failed coup attempt gave rise to a harsh crackdown by Erdogan against opposition and dissent in Turkey. “Critics accuse the government of using the incident as a pretext to silence opposition in the country,” Al Jazeera wrote. 

The latest verdict imposed harsh punishments on those found guilty. Ex-major Fedecar Akca was given what is known as an “aggravated life sentence,” a particularly severe form of sentence that provides no scope for parole. 

Former colonel Muhammet Tanju Poshor was given a sentence for directing the occupation of the media broadcaster TRT’s premises. 

Over 250 people were killed in 2016 following the failed coup attempt. Turkey accuses former Erdogan ally and Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen of being the mastermind of the putsch, a claim he strongly denies. 

Gulen’s residence in the US causes further strain to the relationship between Turkey and the US and NATO, a security alliance led by America. 

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