06:15 GMT07 May 2021
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    Turkish prosecutor Bulent Karakus called Wednesday for multiple life sentences, totaling some 55,880 years in prison, to be handed down to senior members of a group suspected of orchestrating the 2016 coup attempt in the country.

    The trial, the first in a series of what will be many trials of individuals accused of taking part in the attempted coup in July 2016, is underway at the 17th Heavy Penal Court in the Turkish capital of Ankara. Karakus recommended 252 aggravated life sentences for 37 of the 224 defendants grouped together in the first round of trials over the coup. According to AFP, it's not uncommon for serious criminals to receive multiple life sentences in Turkey.

    This first trial group is considered to be the most significant of the many that will follow across the country. Tens of thousands could face prison time for their alleged roles in the coup attempt.

    An "aggravated" life sentence is different from a typical one and requires harsher detention conditions than a regular life sentence. The sentence was introduced after Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004, although Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has floated bringing capital punishment back for those who were involved in the coup. 

    Reportedly, the prosecutor also demanded one collection of defendants face an additional 55,880 years in prison, although the figures are disputed. According to Hürriyet, Turkey's most-circulated newspaper, the 55,880-year recommendation was in regards to 12 people with suspected links to US-based Turkish preacher Fetullah Gulen, who the government has accused of orchestrating the coup. The pro-government Daily Sabah newspaper says, however, that the prosecutor requested 56,000 additional years in total for 37 of the defendants.

    AFP reported that the Dogan News Agency described the sentencing recommendations as a "record" in Turkey if the judge follows suit. 

    Several formerly high-ranking military officials in the trial group are accused of leading the "Peace at Home Council," the name of the group that did claim responsibility for the overthrow attempt. The government alleges that the group is connected to Gulen, whose followers are considered terrorists in the country, although the group says it is not affiliated with the cleric. Gulen, who resides in Pennsylvania, has denied involvement of the coup and has accused Turkish President Erdogan of orchestrating it himself.

    The first batch of defendants are facing charges of trying to overthrow Turkey's Parliament and government, attempting to kill the president, murdering 250 people and attempting to murder another 2,735 people. The indictment accuses them of using "35 planes, 37 helicopters, 246 armored vehicles and around 4,000 light weapons" to carry out their deeds.


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    Turkey coup, Gulenist Terror Organization, Turkey, Ankara
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