Coup d'etat in Turkey

Trial Of Alleged Turkey Coup Ringleaders Begins Amid Criticism From Rights Group

Turkey has begun the trial of more than 220 suspects accused of being among the ringleaders of the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in July 2016.

Twenty-six former generals are among the defendants in the trial, which started in May 22 at a vast courtroom at a prison outside Ankara.

Erdogan’s government claims that the July 15 coup attempt was orchestrated by the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a claim he strongly denies.

Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, is one of the 221 suspects named in the indictment. He is one of nine who are not in custody, with the others appearing in court.

The case is being heard in Turkey’s largest courtroom, which was purpose-built on the premises of a prison complex in Sincan, outside the capital, for trials connected to the coup attempt. It has space for more than 1,500 people.

The suspects were brought into the courtroom by security forces in front of television cameras. Security was tight, with a drone flying overhead and armored vehicles at the site.

Dozens of demonstrators holding Turkish flags booed at the suspects, shouting “we want the death penalty” and holding placards saying: “For the martyrs and veterans of July 15, we want the death penalty.”

The former generals charged include former Air Force chief Akin Ozturk and Mehmet Disli, the brother of senior ruling party lawmaker Saban Disli.

Also on trial is Colonel Ali Yazici, Erdogan’s former military aide.

Erdogan’s office says 248 people were killed in the failed coup — a figure that does not include 24 alleged coup plotters who were killed during the violence.

The trial is one of many being held across the country to judge Turks accused of involvement in the coup attempt, in what is the biggest legal process of Turkey’s modern history.

In February, the Sincan courtroom hosted the opening of the trial of 330 suspects accused of murder or attempted murder on the night of July 15.

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Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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