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Turkey releases 12 privates after top court overturns sentences in 2016 coup case

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Twelve privates allegedly involved in a coup attempt in Turkey in 2016 whose sentences were overturned by the Supreme Court of Appeals late last year have been released by an İstanbul court, the Kronos news website reported on Thursday, citing a lawyer.

In December 2022, the top court overturned the sentences of 82 individuals in the case involving 143 defendants, including the 12 privates who were sentenced to 17 years, six months in prison.

According to lawyer Kemal Uçar, who announced the court decision on social media, the İstanbul 25th High Criminal Court released the privates on Thursday, suspending sentences that ranged from 12 years, six months to 14 years, seven months.

Uçar also said arrest warrants were issued for four defendants who were acquitted by the local court but whose acquittals were reversed by the appeals court, while 44 air force cadets, who were taken to the then-Bosporus Bridge on the night of the coup attempt, are still behind bars.

The bridge was renamed the 15th July Martyrs’ Bridge on July 25, 2016.

The İstanbul court concluded the trial on July 12, 2018 and sentenced 72 individuals, including 44 cadets, to aggravated life imprisonment for the charge of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order.”

Additionally, 22 individuals were sentenced to 17 years, seven months each for the charge of “aiding the attempt to overthrow the constitutional order,” while five individuals received 15 years of imprisonment for the same charge.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that claimed the lives of 251 people and was suppressed overnight.

Many privates and other low-ranking soldiers as well as military cadets were caught up in the incident, deployed by their commanders who in some instances led them to believe that they were acting against an anticipated terror attack.

Immediately after the abortive putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement, a faith-based group they also label as a terrorist organization. The movement strongly denies involvement in the abortive putsch or any terrorist activity.

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