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Two Officers Sentenced to Life in Prison in 1st Turkey Coup Convictions

Ex-Col. Murat Kocak and ex-Maj. Murat Yilmaz denied the accusations. Thousands were arrested following the the botched July 15 coup.
Image: People take over a tank near the Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridge
People take over a tank near the Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridge during a coup attempt in Istanbul on July 16, 2016.Gurcan Ozturk / AFP - Getty Images, file

ANKARA, Turkey — A court in eastern Turkey has sentenced two former military officers to life terms in prison, in the first convictions over the failed military coup in July.

The state-run Anadolu Agency said that the court in Erzurum on Thursday convicted ex-Col. Murat Kocak and ex-Maj. Murat Yilmaz of attempting to abolish Turkey's "constitutional order."

The two were on duty at Erzurum's gendarmerie command at the time of the botched July 15 coup, which the government says was orchestrated by a network of followers of U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen. The cleric denies involvement.

The two defendants have rejected the accusation.

Turkey declared a state of emergency after the coup attempt and engaged in an unprecedented crackdown on Gulen's movement, arresting 41,000 people and purging more than 100,000 from government jobs.