Prosecutors seek two life sentences for Gulen
Prosecutors in western Turkey have demanded a life sentence for United States-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuses of masterminding the failed coup in the country, the state-run news agency reported Tuesday.
Concluding a year-long investigation into his movement's financial dealings, prosecutors in the city of Usak demanded that Gulen be punished with two life sentences plus 1,900 years in prison, the Anadolu Agency reported.
In the more than 2,500-page indictment accepted by the court in Usak on Tuesday, Gulen and 111 other suspects are accused of transferring funds obtained through charities or donations to the United States via "front" companies, Anadolu said. It said the indictment also makes reference to Gulen's alleged role in the July 15 coup.
Gulen, a former Erdogan ally who lives in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, is already on trial in absentia in Turkish courts, facing life terms over accusations of plotting to overthrow the government and leading an armed group. He has also been indicted on a charge of leading a terror organisation and faces another trial in absentia in November.
Yesterday, police in Istanbul launched simultaneous raids on 44 companies suspected of providing financial support to Gulen's movement while authorities issued warrants to detain 120 company executives, Anadolu reported. The private Dogan news agency said the companies searched included a supermarket chain.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused to rule out bringing back the death penalty in order to punish the coup plotters - a move that would further jeopardise Turkey's faltering European Union membership bid. But yesterday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim appeared to move away from reinstating capital punishment.
"Anyone who spilled the blood of our martyrs will be held to account. But, my valuable citizens, we won't act in the spirit of vengeance," Yildirim said during his weekly address to his ruling party's legislators. "Death penalty is death for one time. But there are worse ways of dying. This is through an objective and fair trial."