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Pro-Erdogan supporters on a campaign stop in Sarajevo Pro-Erdogan supporters on a campaign stop in Sarajevo  (ANSA)

Turkish court sentences 104 former servicemen to life in prison

A Court in Turkey has passed life sentences on 104 suspects over their involvement in an attempted coup in the summer of 2016.

By Nathan Morley

Over the last two-years, thousands of soldiers and officers have been purged from the military.

Judges in Izmir sentenced the mostly army personnel for attempting to overthrow the constitutional order. Altogether, 280 military staff are standing trial.

Hasan Huseyin Demiraslan, the former head of the Air Force and Memduh Hakbilen, the ex-Aegean Army commander both received life sentences.

President Erdogan claims that Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen is the inspiration behind the coup and is calling for his extradition from the United States. He has long accused the elderly cleric of attempting to overthrow the government in Ankara.

In the aftermath of the failed coup, more than 55,000 people have been detained pending trial. Around 100,000 have been sacked or suspended from their jobs in the military, public and private sector.

Mr Erdogan has backed reintroducing the death penalty for the coup plotters and said they should wear Guantanamo Bay-style uniforms.

Turkey abolished the death penalty back in 2004.

Mr Erdogan’s critics, though, say he is using the purge to stifle political dissent.

Listen to Nathan Morley's report
22 May 2018, 16:58