Seventeen suspects, including jailed journalists Nazlı Ilıcak, Ahmet Altan and Mehmet Altan, for the first time appeared before court in Istanbul on June 19, in a case into the alleged “media leg” of what prosecutors call the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), believed to be behind the July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
The court hearing at Istanbul’s Çağlayan courthouse was scheduled to take place at 10 a.m. on the day, but as there was a reported problem with the SEGBIS (Audiovisual Communications System), the trial was adjourned to 2 p.m. local time, local media reports said.
The hearing took place in one of the biggest halls of the 26th Heavy Penal Court due to the large number of attendees, including many international observers as well as journalists from groups such as the International Press Institute, International PEN, the Human Rights Observatory, Amnesty International, the Italian Journalists’ Association, the British Bar Association’s Human Rights Committee, and Article 19.
The trial started at around 2.30 p.m. local time with the reading of a summary of the indictments against the suspects. One of the jailed journalists, Nazlı Ilıcak, was expected to be the first suspect defending her case.
In an indictment prepared by the Istanbul Terror and Organized Crime Investigation Bureau into the 17 suspects in April, a prosecutor sought three aggravated life sentences and up to 15 years of prison for each Ilıcak and the Altan brothers for “attempting to prevent the Turkish parliament from carrying out its duties or completely abolish it” and “attempting to remove the government of the Turkish Republic or prevent it from carrying out its duties.”
The trio also faces charges of “attempting to remove the constitutional order” and “committing a crime on behalf of an armed terrorist group without being a member of it.”
In addition, the prosecutor sought three aggravated life sentences each and up to 22.5 years in prison for fugitive suspects Ekrem Dumanlı, Tuncay Opçin and Emre Uslu over three of the aforementioned crimes excluding “committing a crime on behalf of an armed terrorist group without being a member of it.”