November 26, 2020 - 13:32 AMT
Dozens in Turkey handed life sentences over 2016 coup attempt

A Turkish court on Thursday, November 26 sentenced dozens from nearly 500 suspects to life in jail over a 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Deutsche Welle said.

It is the latest ruling in a series of cases that began in 2017 to try those accused of trying to overthrow the government in a coup that left at least 250 dead and more then 2,000 people injured.

According to Anadolu Agency, 25 F-16 pilots were given aggravated life sentences while four civilians were each given 79 life sentences.

Prosecutors argued former air force commander Akin Ozturk and others at the Akinci air base directed the coup, bombed government buildings, and attempted to kill President Erdogan.

A total of 475 people were on trial, 365 of them in custody.

"Aggravated life sentences" come with tougher terms than a normal life sentence. They were brought in to replace the death penalty which Turkey abolished in 2004 as part of its long-stalled drive to join the EU.

Turkey believes a movement loyal to the Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen, was the mastermind of the 2016 plot. Gulen, a Muslim preacher who was once an Erdogan ally, has lived in exile in the United States since 1999. He denies any involvement in the failed putsch. Ankara brands his group a terrorist organisation, but Washington says it will not extradite him.