Soldiers charged over coup attack on Istanbul airport

A prosecutor on Friday charged 159 former soldiers over the attack on Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport during last year's attempted coup.

The indictment from the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office called for life sentences against all the suspects, 95 of who are currently in custody.

The July 15 coup attempt saw soldiers, tanks and warplanes deployed on the streets and in the skies of Ankara and Istanbul as supporters of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) sought to wrest control of the government.

The 159 suspects are said to have been involved in a bid to take control of Istanbul's air space by occupying the control tower at Ataturk.

They are charged with murder, membership of a terrorist organization, violating the constitution and attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and parliament.

Two men killed at the airport -- Mahir Ayabak and Zekeriya Bitmez -- were among 250 people martyred during the failed putsch.

The 708-page indictment, filed at the 34th High Criminal Court in Istanbul, named another 46 alleged victims and 129 complainants.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the government and parliament are identified as other injured parties.

An investigation under prosecutor Gokhan Yolasigmaz identified then Lt. Col. Serbulent Eken and Col. Omer Korkut as the officers in charge of the operation to take Ataturk.

On the night of the coup bid, Erdogan returned to Istanbul from vacation in Marmaris after the airport was seized by troops and police loyal to the government.

Huge numbers of civilians also turned out at the airport to help block pro-coup soldiers.

Ankara has accused FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

Source: Anadolu Agency