A court in Turkey on Wednesday sentenced 40 people to life imprisonment for trying to assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during the failed coup attempted in July 2016. The accused included senior military officers and personnel from the Turkish special forces and combat search-and-rescue units, The New York Times reported.

Judge Emirsah Bastog pronounced 42 out of 47 defendants guilty. Of the remaining five, one was acquitted, another’s case was transferred to a different court. No verdict was passed for two others who were tried in absentia. Exiled cleric Fetullah Gulen is among those on trial, but no verdict was given in his case either, BBC reported.

Demonstrators supporting Erdogan pelted eggs and plastic bottles at the defendants as they were escorted from the courthouse by the police, Reuters reported. They demanded the death penalty for the accused, which was abolished in Turkey in 2004 as part of the country’s bid to join the European Union.

The coup and the assassination attempt

A section of the country’s military had rebelled and tried to overthrow the government’s on July 16, 2016. They faced resistance from thousands of citizens as well as Army troops, and more than 150 people were killed in the violence. Turkey accuses Gulen, who is currently in the United States, and his supporters of organising the coup.

Several teams of the Turkish forces had launched an operation at the hotel in southwest Turkey where Erdogan was staying on the night of the coup. Hours later, the president had appeared live on television, saying he had escaped the assassination attempt.

Since the attempted coup, 40,000 people have been arrested and 1.2 lakh others have been dismissed or suspended from their posts as soldiers, police officers, teachers and public servants over suspected links with militant groups.