Trial of 486 suspects in Turkish coup attempt begins in Ankara

Aug. 1 (UPI) — The trial of 486 suspects who are accused of conspiring in a failed coup of the Turkish government last year, began Tuesday in Ankara.

The defendants include former pilots in Turkey’s air force, as well as the former air force chief.

The trial centers on alleged actions at an Ankara military base, then known as the 4th Akinci Main Jet Base. Prosecutors say the base was a headquarters for pro-coup soldiers.

Fighter planes taking off from the base on in July 2016 bombed several locations in Ankara, including the parliament building. Turkish officers at the base loyal to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were allegedly held hostage.

The defendants are accused of membership in a terrorist organization, attempting to assassinate the president, trying to overthrow parliament, directing an armed terrorist group, damaging public property, endangering public safety, damaging houses of worship, and offenses against civil liberty, the state-run news agency Anadolu reported Tuesday.

The trial involves 461 people currently imprisoned, 18 released under judicial supervision and seven fugitives. The list of fugitives includes cleric Fetullah Gulen, a Pennsylvania resident regarded by the government as the main plotter of the coup.

Since the attempted overthrow of the government, Tukey has sought Gulen’s extradition. His organization, referred to in Turkey the Fetullah Terrorist Organization, has been accused of mounting a long-running campaign against the Turkish government.

Gulen has denied any involvement in the coup attempt, and Turkish prosecutors have not presented any evidence suggesting Gulen gave a direct order to initiative a government overthrow.

The trial is scheduled to continue to Aug. 19.

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