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.

 

Saudi king vows to punish those behind bombing at Shiite mosque

Weakened by war, Syria regime appears ready for ‘de facto partition’

Obama offers Tunisia closer security ties

IS fighters attack Iraq forces east of Ramadi

Israel solicits Platini to sway FIFA

Sudan's Islamists protest against el-Sisi

Saudi mosque attack intended to fan sectarian tension

Islamic State claims Saudi mosque bombing

Islamic State reinforces ‘caliphate’ with control of borders

Israeli deputy FM: 'All of it is ours'

Iraqi forces to launch Ramadi offensive

Tunis asks Rome to extradite terror suspect

Suicide bomb attack on Saudi Shiite mosque

Saudi-led coalition warplanes pound Sanaa outskirts

Shebab gunmen raid Kenya village

Kuwait businessman Khorafi dies at 75

Yemen air strikes continue as Iran calls for talks

Israeli court orders release of Khalida Jarrar

Netanyahu meets with Arab leader Ayman Odeh

U.S. sanctions two companies linked to Iran's plane purchases

Iran supports Yemen talks, denounces foreign interference

IS militants call for attacks on Egypt's judges

11 killed in fresh Libya violence

Assad regime losses in Syria

Obama looks to bolster Tunisia's democratic gains

Turkey opposition unveils plan to build new 'mega-city' in Anatolia

Iraqi prime minister seeks Russian support against Islamic State

Iraq's Sunni tribes feel distrust towards Baghdad after Ramadi fall

Morocco illegal migrant arrest fuels Italy row

Qatar ‘failing to deliver’ on promised labour reforms

US to sell bombs, missiles to Israel, helicopters to Saudis

IS jihadists in full control of Syria's Palmyra

Yemen government wants rebel pullback before joining Geneva talks

Morocco King names four new ministers in second reshuffle

Gaza reconstruction going ‘far more slowly than expected’

France kills two jihadist chiefs in Sahel region

Clashes with ‘Islamic State’ rage on near Libya city of Sirte

Protests in Tunisia phosphate-producing region intensify

Iran aid ship to dock in Djibouti for inspection

Israel to face FIFA suspension bid

Letters of Bin Laden reveal accurate fear of surveillance

Yemen talks to open May 28 in Geneva

‘Islamic State’ fighters take control of Palmyra northern sector

Palestinian driver shot by Israeli police

New Egypt justice minister sworn in after judge's gaffe