[JURIST] A Turkish court on Monday began the trial of two former generals and 54 others suspected of planning to overthrow [JURIST report] the country's ruling Justice Development Party (AKP) [party website, in Turkish]. Sener Eruygur, Hursit Tolon, and their co-defendants are accused of belonging to the country's secular Ergenekon [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] group, which is suspected of involvement in bombings, political assassination plots, and the death of journalist Hrant Dink [BBC obituary]. This is the second large trial of those arrested for alleged connections to the group. The trial of 86 others [JURIST report] began in October 2008, and prosecutors submitted an indictment for another 52 suspects [Hurriyet report] on Monday. Eruygur and Tolon face life in prison if convicted of leading Ergenekon. The probe has been criticized as an attempt by the AKP to silence opposition and further their imposition of Islamic principles [DPA report; JURIST report] in violation of Turkey's secular constitution [text].
In June, police arrested 20 others [JURIST report] in connection with the alleged plot. In May, the Turkish government merged [JURIST report] a case against a lawyer accused of killing a judge with its case against Ergenekon. In March, a Turkish court ordered the arrest [JURIST report] of Cumhuriyet journalist Mustafa Balbay and internet publisher Neriman Aydin for their alleged involvement with the groups. There are currently more than 200 suspects in custody, with 40 arrested January 7, another 12 arrested January 12, and 30 arrested January 19 [JURIST reports]. The suspects include journalists, academics, army officers, policemen, and Turkish Workers' Party [party website, in Turkish] leader Dogu Perincek [JURIST report].