After the failed coup attempt in Turkey in 2016 that led to a wave of arrests throughout the country, 42 former soldiers were convicted of attempting to assassinate the Turkish president. Most of them were sentenced to life in prison.

The defendants being escorted to the court house

The defendants being escorted to the court house Photo Credit: EPA-EFE

About a year after the failed coup attempt in Turkey, a court in the country handed down sentences to some of those involved in the plot. The judge found 42 of the 47 defendants guilty of being involved in the attempt on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s life while he was at a luxurious resort during the attempted coup.

The court handed down life sentences to 40 of the defendants. “Some of those sitting here are guilty of trying to assassinate our president,” the judge stated. “I hope these sentences will benefit everyone.”

The judge also decided that 34 of them will receive aggravated life sentences, which is the worst punishment sanctioned by Turkish law and significantly reduces their chance of parole. One of the defendants was acquitted. Three additional people, including opposition leader Fethullah Gülen, were also on trial along with the former soldiers but the judge eventually separated their cases from the trial.

Protesters threw eggs and bottles at the police officers who were escorting the defendants to the court in Mugla. Other demonstrators waved Turkish flags and sang songs that praise Erdoğan. One of the defendants, a former senior Turkish Air Force official, claimed: “Since the moment I was arrested, they’ve treated me like a criminal.”

Another defendant stated: “We didn’t get a fair trial.” However, Erdoğan’s lawyer, who was present during the trial, said that justice had been served. “If these coupists had succeeded in their attack against the president, history would be different and we would be living in a different Turkey,” he stated.