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Trials begin for Turkey coup ‘organizers’

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Turkish gendarmerie personnel escort defendants Akin Ozturk (3-L) and others suspected of involvement in a 2016 coup attempt as they leave the prison where they are being held, ahead of their trial in the capital, Ankara, May 22, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Turkey has opened the trials of 221 suspected organizers of a failed July 2016 coup against the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The hearings began at the Sincan prison complex near the capital, Ankara, on Monday.

The prime suspects are alleged members of the so-called Peace at Home Council, a group on whose behalf a coup declaration was read on state television on July 15 last year.

They include Gen. Akin Ozturk, a former air force commander. He was transferred to the courtroom amid high security. A crowd of jeering Erdogan supporters reportedly called for him to be executed as he was being transferred past them.

Other defendants include US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former Erdogan aide, whom Erdogan accuses of masterminding the putsch. Gulen has denied the accusation.

Aside from Gulen, eight other defendants will be tried in absentia.

Arrested soldiers accused of having been involved in an attempted coup d’etat in Turkey are accompanied by Turkish soldiers as they arrive at the court inside the Sincan Prison in the capital, Ankara, May 22, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

If found guilty, the individuals would be given life in prison.

The July 2016 coup saw a faction of the Turkish military declaring that it had seized control of the country and that Erdogan’s government was no longer in charge. The attempt was, however, suppressed over some two days after it was launched.

Back in April, the Republican Peoples Party, the main Turkish opposition party, accused the ruling Justice and Development Party of having had prior knowledge of the coup, saying Ankara carried out a “controlled” putsch in an attempt to exploit its outcomes.

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Around 47,000 people have been placed in detention and more than 100,000 public sector employees summarily dismissed since the development.

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