Alleged Erdogan assassination attempt trial opens in Turkey

AP News
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Posted: Feb 20, 2017 5:52 AM
Alleged Erdogan assassination attempt trial opens in Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A trial opened Monday in southern Turkey for 47 people charged with attempting to kill President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the night of the failed coup while he was vacationing with his family.

The suspects — 37 of them former military personnel — face possible life sentences on charges that include attempted assassination, overthrow of the constitutional order and other crimes against the state during the July 15 coup attempt.

The defendants are accused of attacking the hotel in the resort of Marmaris where Erdogan was staying, killing two policemen. Erdogan had left the hotel shortly before it was stormed. Three of the suspects are still at large and are being tried in absentia.

Turkey has blamed the coup on a movement led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose followers are accused of infiltrating the military and other state institutions. Gulen has condemned the coup attempt and has denied he was involved, although he acknowledged that some supporters may have participated in the uprising.

The trial is being held in the city of Mugla, near Marmaris, at a trade center building that was turned into a temporary court because the courthouse is too small to hold such a high-profile case. The defendants were frog-marched to court Monday in groups of 10 or 12, with two paramilitary police holding each of them by their arms.

A police helicopter circled overhead and police snipers watched from the rooftop of the building.

Some 60 government supporters protested the Gulen movement, waiving Turkish flags and holding up placards demanding that the death sentence be reinstated for the coup plotters.

The trial is one of several cases underway against coup plotters across Turkey.