Turkey’s key coup trial kicks off with 486 suspects
ANKARATurkey has begun the critical trial on the July 2016 coup attempt, in which 486 suspects stand accused of attempting a putsch to overthrow the elected government from the Akıncı Air Base, considered the central nerve center of the coup.
The Ankara 4th Criminal Court began on Aug. 1 the trial on events at the Akıncı Air Base, the commanding center on the coup night, from which warplanes took off to bomb the Turkish Parliament and other key state offices, killing77 people.
Some 486 suspects including Fethullah Gülen, the U.S.-based preacher believed to have masterminded the coup attempt, and civilians Adil Öksüz, Kemal Batmaz, Harun Biniş, Nurettin Oruç and Hakan Çiçek, who are considered to be the civilian leaders of the FETÖ (Fethullahist Terrorist Organization) in critical offices like the Air Forces and the Gendarmerie, will be on trial until Aug. 29 for the first hearing.
In the prosecutor’s indictment, which is over 6,000 pages long, the suspects are accused of “violating the Constitution, attempting to assassinate the President, attempting to abolish the government of Turkey, managing an armed terrorist organization, seizing military bases, manslaughter, attempting manslaughter, and deprivation of liberty.”
The suspects were brought to the Sincan Courtroom, which has been exclusively built for the coup trials, escorted by gendarmerie forces under tight security measures.
As they were brought to the dock one by one, protesters outside of the complex chanted slogans demanding the death penalty for the coup plotters.
The case is considered central because Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and other force commanders were taken to the Akıncı base and held captive there by pro-coup soldiers. The generals and commanders were all later freed in a Special Forces operation in the early hours of July 16.
The base’s runways were also bombed on the night of the attempted putsch to prevent F-16s used by the coup plotters from taking off.
Apart from taking generals captive, the suspects are also held responsible for the bombing of key offices like the parliament building, the Special Forces Headquarters at Gölbaşı, the TURKSAT satellite center, and the Ankara Police Headquarters, as well as commanding the air actions of the coup attempt including the movements of jets and F-16s.
Prosecutors are demanding 330 life sentences for the 45 suspects accused of being leaders of the coup attempt.
416 on trial in prison, seven are fugitives
Some 461 of the suspects in the case are being tried in jail, 18 are being tried without arrest, and seven are fugitives.
Adil Öksüz, known as the “Air Force imam” of he Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), was caught on the morning of July 16 in an open area near the air base by gendarmerie forces after spending the night of July 15 at the Akıncı Air Base. He was released on the same day and he disappeared right after July 15 and has been at large since then.
Businessman Batmaz is accused of assisting Öksüz. He and Biniş were caught on the night of July 15 in Kahramankazan, where the Akıncı Base is located. Batmaz claimed in his preliminary statement later that he was at the location along with Biniş to look for real estate.
Oruç, known as FETÖ’s “gendarmerie imam,” was also near Akıncı Air Base on the same night, and said in his preliminary statement that he was there to shoot a documentary.
Hakan Çiçek, the owner of a college, was also caught at the Akıncı base on the night of the coup attempt.