Ankara, lays off 227 magistrates. Trials begin for dozens involved in military coup

Judges and public prosecutors removed. The number of laid off magistrates rises to 3886. They are accused of alleged links with Islamic leader Fethullah Gülen. 47 army officers on trial among them 37 members of a strike team that was supposed to kill Erdogan.

 


Istanbul (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Turkish authorities have dismissed 227 more judges and prosecutors. The Turkish news agency Anadolu reports that the move is part of the punitive measures taken by Ankara against the alleged perpetrators or supporters of the (failed) July state coup. The Higher Judicial Council estimates that there are more than 3886 judges now out of work.

In the aftermath of the failed coup d’État in Turkey last July, President Erdogan and the Turkish government have launched a campaign of repression against its alleged perpetrators. These include supporters of Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, believed to have masterminded the coup that left 270 people dead, and thousands wounded.

In response to the failed coup, in recent months the Turkish authorities have arrested more than 41 thousand people, including teachers, soldiers, intellectuals, opposition politicians, businessmen, journalists, activists and ordinary citizens. About 100 thousand public sector officials have been suspended or laid off.

Behind the new expulsion of hundreds of judges is the accusation of ties with the Gülen movement. Commenting on the decision, the vice-president of the High Judicial Council, Mehmet Yilmaz, added that another 200 judges and prosecutors - suspended in recent months for the same reasons - were reinstated.

Also yesterday, in Mugla, the southern Turkish city, has opened the trial of 47 army officers accused of involvement in the coup of July State. Forty-four people, mostly soldiers, are in custody, while three more remain at large and will be judged in absentia.

The defendants (pictured), many in suits, were conducted into the courtroom by security forces in front of cameras, between boos and the derisive shouts from those present.

Prosecutors have asked several life sentences for each of the accused according to the charges of attempted murder of the president, violation of the constitution and membership of a terrorist organization. Those in the dock also included an assault team of 37 soldiers who were to have to carried out the plan.

On the night of July 15 last Erdogan was spending a family holiday in an exclusive resort of Marmaris, on the Aegean. He reported that he escaped death by accident; two of the escort policemen died in the attack. Responding to questions from the judge, one of the accused said that the "mission" was to "withdraw" the president and bring him in Akinci Air Base [headquarters of the coup] "safe and sound."

West and pro human rights activists groups renew the alert for the purges taking place in the country, in violation of human rights of citizens.

The widespread opinion is that the authorities exploit the state of emergency - and the recent wave of attacks - to eliminate any voice of dissent and opposition to the president.

In this context, the country is going through an institutional change that will transform the nation from the presidential parliamentary republic, with further expansion of Erdogan's powers and the ability to stay in office beyond 2019, actual natural expiry of the mandate.

The constitutional referendum will be held on April 16 and it is likely that until the vote, the government and the president will continue the campaign of repression against dissidents and opponents.

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