The İstanbul 26th High Criminal Court handed down aggravated life sentences to 41 defendants on Friday, among them Ahmet Özdemir, who was fulfilling his mandatory military service and joined the army only five days before a coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
He was sentenced to 14 aggravated life sentences for the alleged murder of 14 people and 2,420 years in prison for injuring 182 during a raid on the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality building on the night of the coup.
Journalist Yazgülü Aldoğan shared a letter to her from Özdemir on Sunday, written in April, following the İstanbul court’s Friday decision.
In his letter Özdemir claimed that he had been doing his military service for only five days when he was dragged to the municipal building by his superiors, who said a terrorist attack was under way.
He also stated that his family’s economic situation was dire and that they could not even afford to retain a lawyer, leading to his plea for help from the journalist.
“My fault was doing my mandatory military service? No one supports us. We are struggling here,” Özdemir wrote, implying that there were others in prison in the same situation.
According to the state-run Anadolu news agency, a total of 889 verdicts of life imprisonment had been handed down in 137 cases as of last month.