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.

 

Iran back to high enrichment 'in 5 days' if US quits nuclear deal

UN urges Iraq to do more for IS sex abuse victims

Taliban warns Afghanistan will become 'graveyard' for US

Two North Korean shipments to Syrian chemical weapons program intercepted

Algerian ‘bikini rebellion’ may be hype but harassment isn’t

Erdogan vows to prevent Kurdish ‘terror corridor’ in Syria

Iraqi troops recapture first two districts from IS bastion

UN says thousands fleeing Tel Afar amid anti-IS offensive

Second round of Kurdish referendum talks could happen next week

Dozens killed in coalition strikes as US-backed forces advance in Raqa

German foreign minister says Erdogan backers threatened his wife

Turkey arrests former national goalkeeper for ‘coup links’

Iran in negotiations to unblock Twitter

Yemeni FM says Iran 'part of the problem' in Yemen

On the trail of Spain's attackers

Mattis in Baghdad to support Iraqi forces

Erdogan critic stunned Turkey's 'long arm' reached Spain

Spanish police shoot dead man who could be Barcelona attacker

Iraqi forces close in on last IS bastion in country’s north

Kuwait arrests 13 fugitives in Iran-linked terror case

Qatar blocks planes from transporting pilgrims

Erdogan says joint op with Iran against Kurds ‘on the agenda’

Barcelona attack fugitive ‘dangerous, possibly armed’ warn police

Lebanese president ratifies public sector wage rise, tax hike

Young Syrian refugees want end of war and ISIS

Lebanon army advances against IS in border battle

Spanish police say driver of Barcelona rampage van identified

Toxic politics in Italy, Libya further complicate migration problem

Russia destroys large column of IS fighters in Syria

Assad says no Syria ties for countries backing rebels

In African tour, Sisi seeks to rebuild ties, address security and water concerns

In Egypt, Syrian refugees recreate Syria

Iraqi Kurds may postpone referendum in return for concessions

Dubai real estate market sets the pace for renewed growth in the GCC

German-Turkish intellectual held at Ankara’s request

Jordan’s municipal elections marred by deaths, riots

Rouhani says top priority is protecting nuclear deal from US

Russia doubts IS claim of stabbing attack in northern city

Turkey slams 'arrogant' German reaction to Erdogan poll call

Police confirm Finland 'terror attack'

Spain hunts suspects as IS claims attack

Aid project helps Syria refugees feel at home in Jordan

Lebanese army launches anti-IS offensive on Syria border

UN demands access to Yemen ports

Low-cost attacks a new reality for Europeans