Turkey's largest trial to judge almost 500 in relation to 2016 coup

A total of 486 suspects accused of conspiring to overthrow the government will go on trial in Turkey’s largest courtroom outside Ankara.

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Kurdistan 24) – Almost 500 people will face trial on Tuesday following what has been a year-long crackdown against those the Turkish government considers to have been involved in last July’s failed military coup.

A total of 486 suspects accused of conspiring to overthrow the government will go on trial in Turkey’s largest courtroom outside Ankara.

Among the charges are murder, violating the constitution, and attempting to kill President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, state-run news agency Anadolu reported.

The detained are accused of organizing the attempted July 15 putsch from the Akinci air base northwest of the capital.

Authorities view the base as the headquarters of the plotters, where orders were sent out for fighter jets to bomb Parliament.

The Turkish Parliament was bombed three times by F-16s.

The trial is one of several held across Turkey judging coup suspects, in the largest legal process in the country’s modern history.

The attempted coup left 249 people dead, the Turkish presidency says, not including 24 coup-plotters killed on the night.

Over 50,000 people have been arrested over alleged links to US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen in a wide-scale crackdown under the state of emergency imposed since July 2016.

The courtroom hosted mass trials related to the coup bid in February where 330 suspects stood accused of murder or attempted murder.

In May, 221 suspects were put on trial charged with being the ringleaders of the failed coup.

Former air force chief Akin Ozturk is one of the detainees set to stand trial who, like several other suspects, is also on trial in another case related to the coup bid.

Among the main suspects named in the indictment but not yet captured by Turkish authorities is Gulen, accused of ordering the attempted coup.

Gulen, who is based in a secluded compound in the state of Pennsylvania, strongly denies the charges.

The Turkish government has also been cracking down on the press and pro-Kurdish parties. 

Seventeen reporters and executives of Cumhuriyet, one of Turkey’s last remaining opposition newspapers, were put on trial this week facing charges ranging from support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to the Gulen movement.

The number of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) members detained in the aftermath of the failed July 15 coup attempt was 7,432 of which 2,345 were put in jail, according to the HDP website.

Last week, the HDP called on its voters to demonstrate against the ongoing government crackdown on the Kurdish political movement, which has seen thousands of people arrested.

The detained include hundreds of local officials, over 80 elected mayors, the party’s charismatic co-leader Selahattin Demirtas, and at least 10 other lawmakers since last year.


Editing by Karzan Sulaivany