ISTANBUL: Fifteen Turkish soldiers were jailed for life on Wednesday for their role in last year’s failed coup, the latest among the thousands caught in Turkey’s crackdown after the overthrow bid.
The men, most of whom were officers, were convicted of trying to take over the Istanbul headquarters of Turkey’s ruling party during the thwarted coup, state news agency Anadolu reported.
This case is one of several others prosecuting people allegedly tied to the July 15, 2016 failed overthrow of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The court in Silivri, outside Istanbul, found the soldiers guilty of “participating in an attempt to invade” Istanbul provincial offices of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The government accuses US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen of masterminding the the putsch but Gulen vehemently denies the claims.
Since last July, over 55,000 people have been arrested in a crackdown on the movement which Turkey has dubbed the “Fethullah Terrorist Organisation” (FETO).
Gulen, living in self-imposed exile in the US state of Pennsylvania since 1999, insists his group is peaceful and has no links to terror.
Turkey’s Western allies are wary over the magnitude of the post-coup purge in which more than 140,000 people have been suspended or sacked from the public sector including teachers, police officers and judges.
But Ankara insists the raids are necessary to rid Turkey of what Erdogan describes as the “virus” created by Gulen’s infiltration of key Turkish institutions.