Tags: turkey | coup | trial | fethullah gulen | absentia

Turkey Coup Trial: 500 in the Dock, Gulen in Absentia

Image: Turkey Coup Trial: 500 in the Dock, Gulen in Absentia

Handcuffed suspects in the attempted coup arrive for trial on Tuesday. (ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 01 Aug 2017 12:19 PM

Turkey coup trials began on Tuesday with nearly 500 suspects facing charges ranging from attempted assassination of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, overthrowing parliament, and murder, down to membership in a terrorist organization.

The alleged hidden hand behind last summer’s failed attempt, Pennsylvania-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, 76, was being tried in absentia, Reuters reported.

The 486 suspects, including the former head of Turkey's air force and some of his pilots, were escorted to a prison court outside Ankara to face trial in the failed coup on July 15, 2016, the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

They were handcuffed and grasped on both sides by gendarmes. Many of them face life sentences in solitary confinement if convicted.

Erdogan had demanded after the coup attempt that former President Barack Obama arrest and extradite Gulen for trial, The Guardian said.

Gulen maintains he denounced the coup while it was taking place.

"As the coup attempt unfolded, I fiercely denounced it and denied any involvement," said an op-ed article under Gulen’s name in The Washington Post on May 15. "Furthermore, I said that anyone who participated in the putsch betrayed my ideals. Nevertheless, and without evidence, Erdogan immediately accused me of orchestrating it from 5,000 miles away."

Reuters said former air force commander Akin Ozturk and others were accused of directing the coup and bombing key government buildings, including the parliament.

Some families of those hurt and killed during the coup attempt protested outside the courthouse, Reuters reported. Some threw ropes at the defendants and shouted "murderers," suggesting that they should be hung for their alleged crimes.

The trial is being held at Sincan Penal Institution near Ankara.

The BBC News said Erdogan ordered the arrest of thousands of people suspected of having links to Gulen after the failed coup. His critics charged he was using the purge to squash political dissent.

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Turkey coup trials began on Tuesday with nearly 500 suspects facing charges ranging from attempted assassination of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, overthrowing parliament, and murder, down to membership in a terrorist organization.
turkey, coup, trial, fethullah gulen, absentia
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2017-19-01
Tuesday, 01 Aug 2017 12:19 PM
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