Trial be­gins of Turkey coup sus­pects The most far-reach­ing le­gal process in Turk­ish his­tory

Kuwait Times - - FROM THE ARABIC PRESS -

Al­most 30 Turk­ish po­lice went on trial in Is­tan­bul yesterday charged with in­volve­ment in the July 15 coup, the city’s first trial of al­leged putsches in the mas­sive crack­down that fol­lowed the failed bid to oust Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan. With some 41,000 coup sus­pects un­der ar­rest in a state of emer­gency, the na­tion­wide tri­als of the ac­cused are set to be the most far-reach­ing le­gal process in Turk­ish his­tory.

Five months af­ter the coup, small-scale tri­als of sus­pects have al­ready be­gun in the prov­inces and on Mon­day 60 peo­ple went on trial in the south­west­ern city of Deni­zli. But the trial in Is­tan­bul-tak­ing place in a gigantic court­house out­side the Silivri prison in Is­tan­bul-is the most sig­nif­i­cant to date and the first in the Turk­ish metropo­lis.

The ac­cused are charged with seek­ing to over­throw the gov­ern­ment as well as al­legedly being mem­bers of the group led by US-based preacher Fethul­lah Gulen who the au­thor­i­ties ac­cuse of lead­ing the plot. Gulen, who Ankara wants to see ex­tra­dited from the United States, ve­he­mently de­nies the charges.

The trial got un­der way with the read­ing out of the names of the ac­cused and judge Fikret Demir read­ing the in­dict­ment, the state-run Anadolu news agency said. This was ex­pected to be fol­lowed by ar­gu­ments for the de­fense. Ini­tial hear­ings are ex­pected to last un­til Fri­day. Amid tight se­cu­rity, Spe­cial Forces in cam­ou­flage gear stood guard out­side the court­house.

Of the 29 po­lice set to go on trial in Silivri yesterday, 24 are un­der ar­rest, one on the run and the rest on bail. If con­victed, 21 sus­pects each face three life sen­tences and the other eight of­fi­cers could be handed prison terms of be­tween sev­e­nand-a-half and 15 years. Those ac­cused are al­leged to have re­fused to pro­tect Er­do­gan’s res­i­dence in Is­tan­bul on the night of the coup. “We will make sure the guilty-within the frame­work of the laware pun­ished and given the most heavy pun­ish­ment pos­si­ble,” said lawyer Orhan Ca­gri Bekar, head of the July 15 As­so­ci­a­tion, which rep­re­sents vic­tims of the coup.

How­ever there has been grow­ing in­ter­na­tional alarm over the ex­tent of the crack­down amid the state of emer­gency im­posed af­ter the coup, with crit­ics con­cerned it has been used to tar­get Er­do­gan’s op­po­nents. With the crack­down show­ing no sign of re­lent­ing, the in­te­rior min­istry said 1,096 peo­ple sus­pected of Gulen links were de­tained in the last week alone.

The coup plot­ters killed 248 peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to the pres­i­dency, and Er­do­gan has said there are strong pub­lic de­mands for retri­bu­tion even ex­tend­ing to reim­pos­ing the death penalty. Er­do­gan said last week that the as­sas­si­na­tion of the Rus­sian am­bas­sador to Ankara was car­ried out by a Turk­ish po­lice­man loyal to Gulen, a claim not yet ac­cepted by Moscow. He said that al­lies of Gulen-who over decades built up strong net­works of in­flu­ence within Turk­ish in­sti­tu­tions-still needed to be weeded out of the se­cu­rity ser­vices.

“This dirty or­ga­ni­za­tion is still within the mil­i­tary, still within the po­lice,” Er­do­gan said. Fol­low­ing the start of the Is­tan­bul trial, sev­eral oth­ers will get un­der way in the com­ing months in­clud­ing of the al­leged mil­i­tary ring­leaders in Ankara. The trial of 47 sus­pects ac­cused of try­ing to as­sas­si­nate Er­do­gan at a hol­i­day re­sort on the Aegean Sea is due to be­gin in Mugla on Fe­bru­ary 20.

The court­house in Silivri has huge res­o­nance for Turks af­ter it was also used in tri­als against sus­pects in 2013 ac­cused of a sep­a­rate coup plot known as Er­genekon. That case, which was strongly sup­ported by Gulen, saw 275 po­lice of­fi­cers, jour­nal­ists, lawyers and aca­demics in­dicted for al­legedly con­spir­ing to oust Er­do­gan. But the sus­pects were then re­leased and their con­vic­tions quashed ear­lier this year, with the au­thor­i­ties ac­cus­ing Gulen of per­vert­ing the le­gal process and fab­ri­cat­ing ev­i­dence. —AFP

IS­TAN­BUL: Turk­ish spe­cial force sol­diers stand guard next to the court­house as a ve­hi­cle trans­port­ing pris­on­ers passes. —AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.