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02 August 2017, 12:46 | Marta Robbins
Turkey set for its largest trial with nearly 500 to face judges over failed coup
Hundreds of people stood trial in in a makeshift Turkish court today accused of leading last year's failed military coup.
The trial is taking place in Turkey's largest courtroom established inside a prison complex in Sincan to hear coup-related trials and has space for 1,558 people.
Following the July 15 coup, Turkey has arrested some 50,000 people and sacked or suspended more than 150,000 in the military, civil service and private sector as part of a sweeping crackdown that has anxious rights groups and some Western nations. According to the charges, Hulusi Akar, the chief of staff of the military, was taken hostage and brought to the base during the coup attempt.
The other defendants include generals and fighter jet pilots at the Akinci air base, on the outskirts of Ankara, the capital, who are accused of directing the coup and bombing key government buildings, including the parliament.
The key suspect is Fethullah Gulen, a USA -based cleric, who is accused by Ankara of being behind the coup attempt.
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Numerous suspects Tuesday face life in prison for crimes including murder and attempting to overthrow the government. Others threw stones or tried to break through police lines to reach the suspects, shouting "Murderers!" As some arrived at court they were met by protesters chanting "We want the death penalty!"
Erdogan's government says the purge is needed to address Turkey's security challenges and to root out what it says is a deeply embedded network of Gulen supporters - who were once Erdogan's allies until they fell out in 2013.
Of the 486 facing charges now, 461 are currently imprisoned, 18 have been released with judicial supervision, and seven are on the run, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Mr Gulen - the key figure accused in the case - is among those being tried, albeit in absentia.
Established in 1960 in a distant suburb of Ankara, the Akinci Air Base was closed down after the coup and changed its name to Murted Base Command.
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