Turkey: 200 defendants put on trial over 2016 coup attempt
Turkey: 200 defendants put on trial over 2016 coup attempt

A trial over the July 2016 coup attempt in Turkey began at a prison courtroom in Sincan on Monday. Two hundred of the 221 defendants in the case were marched into the courtroom [AA report, in Turkish] before a group of protesters, some of whom threw nooses and demanded the death penalty. Many of the protesters had lost relatives during the coup, which resulted in 240 deaths, primarily civilians. Most of the defendants are former military personnel, with ranks ranging from captains to generals. Prosecutors are seeking life sentences [Reuters report] for the defendants’ alleged involvement in the coup, where they are accused of “commandeer[ing] tanks, warplanes and helicopters, bombing the parliament and attempting to overthrow the government.” US-based Muslim cleric Fetullah Gulen, named as the number one defendant in the case and accused of orchestrating the coup, will be tried in absentia. The trial is scheduled to last until June 16.

The aftermath of the failed coup attempt continues as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan [BBC profile] vowed [JURIST report] that those involved in the coup would “pay a heavy price.” On Sunday, Erdoğan announced [JURIST report] that the state of emergency temporarily placed on the country after the failed coup would continue until the country reached “welfare and peace.” In November, Turkey significantly halted the activities of 370 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including human rights and children’s groups to investigate the groups’ alleged terror connections [JURIST report]. The president of the UN Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals, Theodor Meron, demanded [JURIST report] the release of Turkish judge Aydin Sefa Akay in an address to the UN General Assembly. Earlier that month, the Turkish government arrested [JURIST report] eight pro-Kurdish political party members, including the party’s two leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag and an additional nine party members. In September, Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said that approximately 32,000 people have been arrested [JURIST report] and 70,000 have been questioned. In late October, Turkey’s government dismissed 10,000 additional civil servants [JURIST report] and closed 15 more media outlets for their supposed connection with US-based religious leader Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey has accused of orchestrating the attempted coup in July.