486 suspects face justice in Turkey's largest coup trial

Marie Harrington
Августа 2, 2017

Almost 500 people appeared in court yesterday in the biggest trial yet of suspects from Turkey's failed coup, facing charges of conspiring to oust the government from an air base seen as the plotters' hub.

They are charged with crimes ranging from murder, violating the constitution and attempting to kill President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Numerous suspects could face life in prison if convicted, according to The Associated Press.

Considered the plotters' headquarters, the airbase was reportedly used to coordinate the coup and direct the bombing of key government buildings, reports the Washington Post.

The government blames US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for orchestrating the coup, though he denies the charges.

Following the July 15 coup, Turkey has arrested some 50,000 people and sacked or suspended more than 150,000 in the military, civil service and private sector as part of a sweeping crackdown that has anxious rights groups and some Western nations.

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Last July, orders were allegedly sent out from Akinci air base, north-west of Ankara, to bomb parliament as troops attempted to oust President Erdogan.

A total of 461 suspects are being tried in jail, 18 are being tried without arrest, and seven key figures are still on the run, including Adil Oksuz, known as "Air Force imam", who was last seen on the morning of July 16 near the air base by gendarmerie forces. Businessman Kemal Batmaz is meanwhile accused of assisting Oksuz.

Events at the Akinci base were at the center of the coup attempt, because Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar and several army commanders were taken to the base and held captive by pro-coup soldiers during the July 15 coup night.

Following the coup, the government instituted a strict state of emergency, granting itself wide-ranging powers.

The trial is the largest yet relating to the coup.

The pilots who bombed state institutions during the night of the coup bid are also standing trial. A total of 1,300 security personnel were deployed inside and outside the courtroom.

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