İstanbul phase of main coup trial adjourned until August

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Turkish anti-riot forces stand guard at the courthouse on December 27, 2016 at Silivri district in Istanbul. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

The trial of 24 people who are accused of leading a failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016 that is being held at an İstanbul court has been adjourned until August.

Six former generals, 17 staff officers and Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen are the suspects who are being tried on coup charges at the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court.

Gülen is accused of masterminding the coup attempt, a claim strongly denied by the Islamic cleric, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States and is being tried in absentia.

Four hearings were held last week during which the court rejected requests from the suspects for their release. In an interim ruling the court decided to hold the next hearings on Aug. 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25, after the first anniversary of the coup attempt, which claimed the lives of more than 240 people and injured a thousand others.

Another coup trial in which 221 people are being tried on coup charges is ongoing in Ankara. More than two dozen former Turkish generals are among those standing trial in the Ankara court.

Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

According to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency on May 28, 154,694 individuals have been detained and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup attempt.

Contrary to accusations made by President Erdoğan and the Turkish government, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament concluded in March that Gülen and the movement he inspired as a whole were not behind the failed coup in Turkey.

The UK Parliament statement came a week after Germany rejected Erdoğan and the Turkish government’s accusations against the Gülen movement about July 15.

The head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, said Turkey could not convince them that US-based Turkish-Islamic scholar Gülen was behind the failed coup in July.

Similarly, Devin Nunes, chairman of United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said he has not seen any evidence showing Gülen’s involvement in the putsch in Turkey.

In addition, a report prepared by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen) revealed that the coup attempt was staged by a range of Erdoğan’s opponents due to fears of an impending purge.

In February, Henri Barkey, director of the Middle East Program at the Washington-based Wilson Center, said that many generals purged by the Turkish government are pro-NATO and pro-American, saying this could create a shift in Turkey-NATO relations.

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