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Turkish court opens mass trial of coup suspects

[JURIST] Around 330 individuals were put on trial [Al Jazeera report] Tuesday for their alleged involvement in the attempted coup in Turkey last July [BBC profile]. The charges against the suspects range from murder to attempts to remove the government and prevent the parliament from conducting their work. If convicted, the individuals could face up to multiple life sentences. The trial is taking place at the Sincan Prison, located outside of Turkey's capitol of Ankara, in a special court under heavy security.

Since the failed coup in Turkey in July, where Turkish military forces tried to overthrow the government, the Turkish government has taken several controversial steps to strengthen its power. Turkish Labor Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu said that authorities have dismissed more than 90,000 public servants for alleged connections to the coup [JURIST report]. In January a judge for the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals ordered the release [JURIST report] of Turkish judge Aydin Sefa Akay who was detained in July. Also in January the Turkish Parliament approved a plan [JURIST report], which, if approved by vote later this year, would increase presidential power within the country and would allow President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to stay in office until 2029. In November Turkey significantly restricted the activities of NGOs like human rights organizations and children's groups and arrested opposition party leaders [JURIST reports] alleging they were connected to terror organizations. In October Human Rights Watch warned [JURIST report] that the emergency decrees put in place after the failed coup, had resulted in serious human rights violations. In July Amnesty International condemned [JURIST report] Turkey for attacking the freedom of the press by issuing arrest warrants for 42 journalists.

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