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Monday , 23 July 2018
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Turkey: 500 stand for trial

Almost 500 people arrested after last year’s failed coup in Turkey have appeared in court accused of taking part in the plot.

Some of the handcuffed defendants were jeered as they were individually escorted into court by police and armed guards in front of TV cameras.

The trial focuses on events at the Akinci airbase which it is alleged was the plotters’ headquarters.

It is taking place in a purpose-built courtroom outside the capital Ankara.

Families of those killed or wounded protested outside the courthouse, with some throwing hangman’s nooses or stones toward the defendants as they arrived under tight guard, shouting “murderers” and demanding that the death penalty be reinstated.

The government declared a state of emergency after the coup attempt and embarked on a large-scale crackdown that has alarmed Western allies of Ankara, a NATO member and candidate for European Union membership.

A total of 461 suspects jailed pending trial were brought to the courthouse, handcuffed and each flanked by two gendarme officers. Seven defendants are still on the run, while another 18 have been charged but not in jail.

Rebel soldiers tried to grab power in July 2016, leaving 249 civilians dead.

Military chief Gen Hulusi Akar and other senior officers were held hostage at the base for several hours on the night that the coup took place.

The trial is the largest yet relating to the coup. Anyone convicted is expected to get life imprisonment.

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