First Published: 2012-12-13

 

Turkey's mass coup conspiracy trial nearing end

 

Defence lawyers of almost 300 people accused of plotting to overthrow Erdogan’s government make their final arguments before Turkish court.

 

Middle East Online

A verdict in the four-year long case involving 275 defendants is expected in the coming weeks

ISTANBUL - The mass trial of almost 300 people accused of plotting to overthrow the Islamist-rooted government of Prime Minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan entered its closing stages on Thursday as defence lawyers make their final arguments before a Turkish court.

A verdict in the four-year long case involving 275 defendants, including Turkey's former military chief Ilker Basbug and other army officers as well as lawyers, academics and journalists, is expected in the coming weeks.

The defendants face dozens of charges, ranging from membership in an underground "terrorist organisation" known as Ergenekon and instigating an armed uprising against Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), which came to power in 2002.

Hundreds of people tried to barge into the courtroom in the heavily-guarded Silivri prison complex near Istanbul in a show of protest over the Ergenekon trial, which is seen as a major test in Erdogan's showdown with secularist and military opponents.

"We are the soldiers of Ataturk!" the protesters chanted, referring to the founder of secular Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, whose legacy has been fiercely defended by the staunchly secular army.

In a separate case dubbed "Sledgehammer", more than 300 hundred active and retired army officers, including three former generals, received prison sentences of up to 20 years in September over a 2003 military exercise which the court said was an undercover coup plot.

Pro-government circles have praised the Ergenekon trial as a step towards democracy in Turkey, where the army violently overthrew three governments in 1960, 1971 and 1980.

In 1997, it pressured the then Islamic-leaning prime minister Necmettin Erbakan, the political mentor of the current premier, into stepping down in what was popularly dubbed a "post-modern coup" strategy.

However critics have branded the trial a witch-hunt to silence the opposition. It is one of a series of cases in which members of the Turkish army, the second biggest in NATO, have faced prosecution for alleged coup plots against an elected government.

 

Iraqi forces seize Kirkuk governor's office

New UN envoy in Rabat to restart talks on WSahara

Last days of Raqa battles ‘toughest fighting yet’

Mogadishu twin bomb death toll at 276

Lebanon promotes ‘back to public school’ drive

Divided Iraq tests limited US influence

Iraqi forces seize airport, oil field from Kurds

Saudi Arabia sets conditions to role in Syria reconstruction

In tougher approach, US offers multimillion-dollar reward for Hezbollah operatives

EU ministers join forces in support of Iran deal

Batteries, tape to thank for defeating jihadists in Raqa

Palestinian Authority top official visits Gaza

Israel strikes Syrian anti-aircraft battery in response to shots

Qatar starts to feel pinch from sanctions

Omani role has helped Iran but may not do much in crisis with US

Head of IS in Southeast Asia dead

Gazans hope Palestinian reconciliation ends their woes

US-backed forces announce ‘final phase’ of Raqa recapture

Suspicion of football corruption shows limits of Qatar’s ‘soft power’

Schools closed on first day of term in rebel-held Yemen

Iraqi forces in standoff with Kurds in oil-rich Kirkuk

Protests in southern Morocco over water shortages

Iran’s Zarif says Trump speech in violation of nuclear deal

In Egypt, illiteracy rates down but problem remains

ISIS regroups in Libya amid jihadist infighting

Egypt’s Nation’s Future Party seeks to build on youth vote

Qatar freezes assets of royal member over Gulf crisis

Morocco dismantles IS-linked terror cell

Syrian troops recapture city of Mayadeen from IS

Gulf countries voice support for Trump’s tough stance on Iran

Princess named to head Saudi sports federation

IS fighters surrender as defeat in Raqa nears

Former French culture minister picked to head UNESCO

Baghdad issues ultimatum to Kurds on Kirkuk

Trump tears into Iran, leaves nuclear deal hanging

Iranians respond with anger, mockery to Trump speech

Somalia's defense minister, army chief resign

EU says it must watch IS in North Africa 'very carefully'

NATO chief urges US, Turkey to 'find solutions' to row

Turkey deploys troops to Syria's rebel-held Idlib

Four jihadists killed in Mali

Hamas dilemma in Palestinian reconciliation

Baghdad launches Kirkuk operation amid bitter row with Kurds

Talks on Raqa civilian exit halted

Qatar, Egypt set for UNESCO standoff