First trial opens of alleged Turkey coup participants

News Hour:

The first criminal trial related to a summer coup in Turkey started on Tuesday as 29 police officers faced sentences of up to life in prison on charges of involvement in the failed attempt to overthrow the government.

Some 40,000 people have been arrested since the July 15 putsch, which killed around 240 people, in a crackdown targeting the military, police, civil service and private sector. More than 100,000 have been sacked or suspended, reports Reuters.

The officers face a range of charges, according to a copy of the indictment obtained by Reuters. Some are accused of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order, and others of membership of a terrorist organisation.

They include three police helicopter pilots accused of disobeying an order to take special forces to defend President Tayyip Erdogan’s mansion in Istanbul.

Two defendants who testified during the morning session both denied the charges against them. Lawyers for the other 27 defendants could not immediately be reached to say how their clients would plead.

“Everyone involved in the coup attempt must have a fair trial,” Orhan Cagri Bekar, a lawyer who represents an association for coup victims, told reporters. “Those who are guilty must be sentenced to the heaviest punishment because this is a betrayal of the country.”

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