Turkey begins trial of 29 officers linked to coup attempt

Twenty-nine Turkish police officers have gone on trial in the port city of Istanbul in connection with the failed coup of July 15.

According to Anadolu news agency, the officers went on trial at the gigantic courthouse by Silivri prison outside Istanbul on Tuesday.

Of the officers on trial, 24 are under arrest, one on the run and the rest on bail.

The first hearings are expected to last until December 30.

The officers are charged with refusing to obey orders to protect President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s residence on the night of the coup.

They are also accused of seeking to overthrow the government as well as allegedly being members of a group led by US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of being behind the coup attempt. Gulen denies the accusation.

Lawyer Orhan Cagri Bekar, the head of the July 15 Association that represents the victims of the coup said, “We will make sure the guilty, within the framework of the law, are punished and given the most heavy punishment possible.”

If convicted, 21 officers each face three life sentences. The other eight could get jail terms of between seven and a half and 15 years.

With some 41,000 coup suspects under arrest in a state of emergency, small-scale trials of suspects have already begun. On Monday, five dozen people went on trial in the southwestern city of Denizli.

The trial of nearly 50 suspects accused of trying to assassinate President Erdogan at a holiday resort on the Aegean Sea is due to begin in Mugla on February 20.

A Turkish soldier stands guard next to the courthouse as a vehicle transporting prisoners passes, Istanbul, December 27, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Since the coup attempt, Ankara has been carrying out a crackdown on those believed to have played a role in the move.

The post-coup crackdown has seen over 40,000 people jailed pending trial and more than 100,000 sacked or suspended in the civil service, army, judiciary and other institutions.

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