Turkish Court Sentences 70 Cadets to Life in Prison Over 2016 Coup

The revanchist mood that swept through Turkey’s politicized legal landscape taints the very notion of justice. Handing life sentences to 70 cadets over the 2016 coup is the latest proof.

Abdullah Ayasun

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As entire Turkey is locked in a prolonged political debate over the merits of troop deployment in Libya, the afterlife of the 2016 coup still continues to devour many lives on dubious legal grounds. On Friday, 70 Air Force cadets were sentenced to life in prison over the charge of coup involvement.

But for any sane observer, the legal rationale presented by judges is no less than a travesty of justice. Shifting the onus of the entire coup whose true nature still eludes us on a group of young cadets is nothing less than a blatant miscarriage of justice. Ahmet Nesin, an exiled Turkish journalist who worked hard like a self-employed sleuth to unravel the mystery surrounding the coup, dismissed the court ruling as a farce. This verdict, he reasoned, only serves to amplify the already existed suspicion over the government’s own role to facilitate the premature insurrection in a controlled fashion in order to advance its own political agenda in the aftermath of the coup.

None of the students took part in violence, the left-leaned ArtiGercek news portal wrote. But still, this did not save them from what seems to be the political wrath.

The Friday verdict brings the total number of military officers, who received life sentences over coup-related charges, to more than 400. But the particular case of cadets and soldiers is molesting the conscience of people who have witnessed how trials have proceeded since 2016 amid the breakdown of judicial independence and basic parameters of rule of law in the country.

Lawmaker Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, who is in the vanguard of defending the rights of purge victims since his election to Parliament two years ago, has written off the court verdict as mockery.

“These rulings are against the law.!

They were (as if) tried on grounds devoid of substance and legality. What emerged at the end was an extra-judicial (execution).

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Abdullah Ayasun

Boston-based journalist and writer. Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. 2023 WHCA Scholar. On art, culture, politics and everything in between. X: @abyasun