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.

 

Iraq forces battle IS jihadists to retake Fallujah

Palestinian PM dismisses Netanyahu proposal

EgyptAir victims' relatives give samples for DNA tests

Kurdish, Arab forces announce anti-IS offensive north of Syria's Raqa

Abu Dhabi oil giant cuts thousands of jobs

Syrian base used by Russia damaged in IS attack

Israel PM's travel expenses under scrutiny

Iran sends new delegation to Saudi for hajj talks

Hardline cleric elected head of Iran's Assembly of Experts

Civilians trapped as Fallujah siege tightens

Iraq's Fallujah offensive draws attention from embattled PM

Turkey incoming PM unveils cabinet

US, Russia scramble to save Syria truce

Libyan coastguards intercept 550 bound for Europe

Campus bomb kills two in Yemen's Sanaa

Saudi soldier killed in landmine blast on Yemen border

Over 148 killed in IS bombings in Syria regime heartland

Erdogan advisor says Turkey could suspend EU deals

Iraq launches military operation to retake Fallujah

Oil prices dip as Iran says no to output freeze

Skepticism ahead of Istanbul humanitarian summit

Sudan steps up pressure for exit of Darfur peacekeepers

UN Palestinian agency says half its schools hit by conflict

Bombs kill more than 120 in Syria regime strongholds

Netanyahu rejects French peace initiative

Gunmen kill 8 worshipers in Darfur

India in deal to turn Iran port into trade hub

Turkey's incoming PM working on new cabinet

Israel lifts ban on Gaza cement deliveries

Yemen warring parties meet after long pause

Egypt enlists submersible to search for EgyptAir crash clues

Tunisia's Ennahda reelects Ghannouchi as party chief

At least 20 dead in Yemen suicide bombing

Syria rebels give truce brokers 48 hours to end regime offensive

Deadly bombings rock northeast Syria as US commander visits

Ex- government minister dies in Libya ISIS clashes

Green Zone breach may set stage for more violence in Iraq

‘Last chance’ to save Yemen peace talks

Egypt deploys submarine in search for clues in plane crash

Erdogan loyalist set to be Turkey PM

Attempt to disperse protesters turns deadly in Iraq

EgyptAir crash fuels theories

Tunisia Islamist party moves to shed ‘political Islam’ label

US swiftly rejects Russia proposal for Syria joint airstrikes

Coalition leaflets advise residents to flee Raqa