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151 Life Sentences Handed Down at Turkey Coup Trial

A Turkish soldier stands guard in front of the Aliaga Prison and Courthouse complex in Izmir, Turkey July 18, 2018.

A Turkish court sentenced 151 people to life in prison on Thursday in a trial over a 2016 coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Among those sentenced were 17 senior military officials.

According to Turkish media, a Turkish court in Ankara sentenced 128 people to aggravated life sentences and sentenced 23 people to normal life sentences for their participation in a 2016 coup attempt that left over 200 dead and over 2,000 people injured.

The sentence of aggravated life imprisonment carries harsher prison conditions than a standard life sentence.

Most notable of the individuals sentenced were Air Force CommanderAkin Ozturk and Presidential aide Ali Yazici.

On July 15, 2016, elements of the Turkish Armed Forces mobilized in certain cities across the nation, seeking to unseat Erdogan. The coup was put down by Turkish forces hours after it began, with many of the participants surrendering.

The Turkish government alleges that the coup attempt was in part, orchestrated by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen. Gulen denies involvement.

Thirty-three defendants were acquitted of charges at Thursday's trial, according to local media.

In the three years since the coup, Turkey has engaged in a sharp crackdown. Hundreds of thousands of state employees were fired and 77,000 people were arrested.

In a 2017 referendum, a slim majority voted to end the nation's parliamentary system in favor of a presidential system, expanding the powers of President Erdogan.