Some 500 suspects on trial in Turkey's biggest coup case

02 August, 2017, 00:47 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
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Almost 500 suspects including army generals and pilots went on trial in Turkey on Tuesday, many of them accused of commanding last year's failed coup attempt from an air base in the capital Ankara.

Numerous suspects Tuesday face life in prison for crimes including murder and attempting to overthrow the government.

They are accused of running the coup bid from the Akinci airbase northwest of the capital, which the authorities regard as plotters' headquarters.

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The main defendant in the case is US -based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the government blames for the coup, and the 76-year-old will be tried in absentia. Turkish President accuses Gulen of masterminding the coup attempt.

The coup was executed outside the chain of command. The Turkish parliament was bombed three times by F-16s.

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.

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In addition to holding generals captive, the suspects are held responsible for bombing key structures like the parliament building, the Special Forces Headquarters at Golbasi district, the TURKSAT satellite center and the Police Headquarters, as well as commanding the air actions of the coup attempt, including the movement of F-16 jets. Businessman Kemal Batmaz is meanwhile accused of assisting Oksuz. The attempted coup left 249 people dead, the Turkish presidency says, not including 24 coup-plotters killed on the night.

Following the coup, the government instituted a strict state of emergency, granting itself wide-ranging powers. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has floated bringing back the death penalty, though Peter reports that the European Union has warned that "such a move would kill off Turkey's bid to join the union".

A total of 593 people were detained by Turkish police as part of the investigations into the coup, the Turkish Minute newspaper reported.

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