Turkey coup trial: nearly 500 in court amid protests

Turkey Detains 1000 in Latest Anti-Terror Raids

The trial for almost 500 suspects, including a number of generals and military pilots, accused of leading last year's failed coup attempt in Turkey and carrying out attacks from an air base in the capital Ankara started on Tuesday.

They are accused of running the coup bid from the Akinci airbase northwest of the capital, which the authorities regard as plotters' headquarters.

The defendants face charges from attempting to assassinate the president to murder.

On July 15, 2016, Turkish military units took to the streets and controlled strategic points of the country, leaving a total of 248 people killed in clashes.

Those held in custody include Akin Ozturk, a former air force chief who - like several suspects - is also on trial in another case related to the coup bid. Anyone convicted is expected to get life imprisonment; the death penalty was abolished in Turkey in 2004.

In the aftermath of their botched attempt, thousands of people have been arrested, many suspected of having links to Fethullah Gulen, a cleric living in exile in the US.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses academics during a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey July 26, 2017.

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.

He remains in the United States under self-imposed exile in a secluded compound in the USA state of Pennsylvania, and strongly denies the charges against him.

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