Turkey’s largest trial relating to a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 began on Tuesday in Ankara 4th High Criminal Court.
A total of 486 people accused of taking part in the coup attempt are to go on trial. The suspects, who were thought to have received orders from Akıncı air base, were allegedly plotting to assassinate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the night of the coup attempt.
According to Turkish government, Akıncı air base, north-west of Ankara, served as the headquarters for plotters and the orders to bomb the parliament and overthrow Erdoğan were sent out from there.
The trials are expected to last 29 days.
Tensions were observed between families of those who were killed on the night of coup attempt and lawyers of defendants before the hearings began. Some of the families of defendants were not accepted in the court room due to lack of space and heightened tension.
Turkish police and gendarmerie took security measures in the court and formed a barrier between defendants and complainants. Lawyers of defendants were taken into the court room using another door due to experiencing physical disturbance by complainants. The chief judge Selfet Giray asked parties to obey court rules and warned against sending them out of court room in case the tension continued.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Deputy Chairman Hayati Yazıcı said AKP is going to demand to participate in the trial as trialist. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) also wanted to be involved as trialist.
People carrying Turkish flags protested defendants as they were brought to court room and chanted slogans asking for execution of coup suspects.
Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch AKP government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen group.
The group denies any involvement.
Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.
Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15.
Erdoğan is criticized for using the coup attempt as an excuse to oppress dissident voices.