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Trial Opens against Suspected Coup Instigators in Turkey | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Akin Ozturk, a former Turkish Air Force commander accused of orchestrating last year’s failed coup, is escorted by gendarmes as he arrives at the court in Ankara, Turkey, May 22, 2017. (Reuters)

Ankara – A trial opened on Monday in the Turkish capital Ankara for 221 suspects accused of instigating the failed coup on July 15, 2016. US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen is at the top of the list of these suspects and is being tried in absentia.

Gulen is accused for orchestrating the failed coup. He has been residing in the US since 1999 and is being tried in absentia along with 11 other suspects, who are charged with fleeing the country on the night of the coup.

Akin Ozturk, a former Turkish Air Force commander, is also among the suspects.

As the suspects appeared in court, government supporters called for the death penalty to be reinstated. Up to 1,500 police officers were deployed to secure the trial.

More than 240 people, many of them civilians, were killed in the failed July 2016 coup when a group of soldiers, tanks, warplanes and helicopters, bombed the parliament and attempted to overthrow the government.

Those on trial included core suspects behind the coup who raided the state broadcaster and forced the presenter to read out an announcement saying the army had taken over and Turkey was being run by a committee they called “Peace at Home”.

They face charges of seeking to topple the constitutional system, belonging to a terror group and attempting to occupy the parliament.

In a related development, Amnesty International released a report on Monday criticizing the Turkish government’s arbitrary dismissals, saying they have had devastating effects on the employees and their families

Meanwhile, the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) criticized President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for announcing that the state of emergency will remain in place “until peace is fully provided.”

“At first you said you were introducing the state of emergency for just one month. It’s been 10 months now. Democracy is bleeding,” CHP Deputy Group Chair Özgür Özel said.