Ankara, 220 senior army officers on trial

There are also 26 generals. These include Akin Ozturk, former air force commander and president. The prosecutor asks for life imprisonment. Outside groups of protesters invoke the death penalty. Erdogan re-elected on the weekend at the helm of the Akp party.


Ankara (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The trial of over 220 senior army officers, including 26 generals, opened yesterday in Ankara. They are charged with orchestrating last July’s (failed) coup and include Gen. Akin Ozturk, former air force commander.  The public prosecutor has asked for life in prison, the maximum penalty provided by the law. However, outside the building where the trial is being held, dozens of pro-government sympathizers invoked the death penalty that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would like to reintroduce into the country.

The former presidential loyalist, long-time number one in the air force is joined by dozens of generals, colonels and majors. The military leaders were paraded yesterday, handcuffed and escorted by two agents to the inside of the building. Demonstrators shouted slogans and threw rocks in their direction.

According to the Anadolu government news agency, over 1,500 agents were mobilized to provide security. The trial is being held in a newly constructed building to host the debate and is located in Sincan, on the outskirts of the Turkish capital.

Since July 2016, Turkish authorities have arrested more than 45,000 people, including teachers, soldiers, intellectuals, opposition politicians, businessmen, journalists, activists and ordinary citizens. More than 135,000 public servants have been either suspended or dismissed.

The crackdown is aimed at Kurds, and sympathisers (real or assumed) of the movement led by Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, US.

According to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan and other government leaders Gülen was behind the coup in Turkey that killed 270 people, wounding thousands.

Among those on trial in Ankara yesterday there are so-called "masterminds" of the coup, including the authors of the raid on Turkish state television. In the earlystages of the uprising, the gunmen had forced the presenter to read a statement stating that the army had assumed power and would lead the country through a "peace" committee. The Islamic preacher Gülen, along with 11 others, is being tried in absentia.

Relatives of some of the victims who died in the rebellion were also present in the courtroom. A woman, before fainting, exclaimed, "Kill these traitors, my son's assassins."

Hearings should continue until June 16th.

Meanwhile, President Erdogan has informally extended the state of emergency in place since the attempted coup. He added that the decree will remain until the nation reaches "well-being and security." The announcement came in the context of his re-election on 21 May, to lead the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to the government in the country.