Turkey failed coup trial
© Kenan Gurbuz, Reuters
File photo of Turkish soldiers arriving in court in July 13, 2017 for the failed coup attempt trial.
A Turkish court on Friday handed down life sentences to 121 people for taking part in the 2016 attempted overthrow of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, state media reported.

The court in Ankara sentenced 86 suspects to "aggravated" life imprisonment for "attempting to violate the constitution" while 35 individuals were given life sentences for the same crime, the official Anadolu news agency said.

An aggravated life sentence has tougher terms of detention. It was brought in to replace the death penalty which Turkey abolished in 2004 as part of its drive to join the EU.

A total of 245 suspects were on trial in the case related to events at the Gendarmerie General Command on the night of July 15, 2016 in the Turkish capital.

Another suspect, former colonel Erkan Oktem, was given nine aggravated life sentences for "wilful murder", Anadolu reported.

The failed coup left 248 people dead, excluding 24 putschists killed that night.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised a "cleansing" of state institutions following the coup attempt and hundreds of thousands were arrested in a crackdown widely criticised by the international community. Detainees included opposition figures, military personnel, judges, journalists and activists.

Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul last week said 15 coup-related trials continued out of a total of 289 in what is the biggest legal process in Turkey's modern history.

After a three-month break because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, trials in Turkey resumed this month including the main coup trial focused on events at an air base in Ankara seen as the putschists' hub.

That trial began in 2017 and is expected to be completed soon.

Turkey says US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen ordered the failed coup, a claim he strongly denies.

Tens of thousands of people have been arrested over alleged links to Gulen, while over 100,000 have been sacked or suspended from the public sector due to similar suspicions.

(AFP)