Alwaght- A Turkish court has handed down aggravated life sentences to 84 defendants for their roles in clashes on an Istanbul bridge, including a key aide of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during an abortive coup two years ago. At least 34 people, including Erol Olcok a key aide of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, were killed on the Bosphorus Bridge.
According to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency, during the hearing, 72 out of the suspects got aggravated life sentences for trying to overthrow the constitutional order, while 12 others got the same sentence for the murder of Olcok and his 16-year-old son who heeded a call from President Erdogan to challenge the coup plotters on the bridge across the Bosphorus Strait in July 2016. The bridge was later renamed by the Turkish government as July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge.
Turkey witnessed a coup attempt when a faction of the Turkish military declared that the government of President Erdogan was no more in charge of the country. However, over the course of two days, the putsch was suppressed.
The Turkish government accuses the US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen of having orchestrated the attempted coup. Gulen, a former Erdogan ally turned arch-foe, has denied the allegation.
Ankara has called on the US to extradite Gulen, but the demand has not been taken heed of.
Tens of thousands of people have been arrested in Turkey on suspicion of having links to Gulen and the failed coup. More than 140,000 others, including military staff, civil servants and journalists have been sacked or suspended from work over the same accusations.
The international community and rights groups have been highly critical of the Turkish president over the massive dismissals and the crackdown.