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36 Turkish naval officers get life in prison on coup charges

A Turkish court sentenced 23 naval officers, including dismissed admirals Hayrettin İmren and Nazmi Ekici, to aggravated life without the chance of parole, while 13 officers were given life in prison by the same court on Thursday over their alleged role in a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 and their alleged links to the Gülen movement.

According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency on Thursday, the Kocaeli 5th High Criminal Court held the trial of 55 defendants at Kocaeli Prison, 19 of whom were handed down sentences of unspecified duration.

Hundreds of thousands of people in Turkey have been the subject of legal proceedings in the last two years on charges of membership in the Gülen movement since a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, a Turkish Justice Ministry official told a symposium on July 19, 2018.

Turkey survived a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed about 170,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15, 2016. On Dec. 13, 2017, the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018, that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016, and April 11, 2018, over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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