Judge breaks off coup hearing after complainants throw water bottles at defendants

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People protest against arrested soldiers who participated in last year's attempted coup d'etat as they arrive for their trial at Sincan Penal Institution at the 4th Heavy Penal Court near Ankara on August 1, 2017. Nearly 500 people appeared in court on August 1 in the biggest trial yet of suspects from Turkey's failed coup, facing charges of conspiring to oust the government from an air base seen as the plotters' hub. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

The presiding judge at a hearing in Ankara on Thursday, part of a trial of key suspects in a failed coup in 2016, broke off the hearing after complainants in the courtroom threw water bottles and attempted to attack the defendants.

According to the T24 website, Selfet Giray, the presiding judge of the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court, ordered officials to empty the courtroom after the incident and adjourned the hearing until 2 p.m. local time.

The incident took place when suspect Hakan Çiçek was directed questions by a lawyer for the complainants.

When the lawyer asked Çiçek whether he had ever read any books by Fethullah Gülen, who is in self-imposed exile in the US and is accused by Turkey of masterminding the failed coup, Çiçek said “No.” After the lawyer insisted that Çiçek seems to have read Gülen’s books since something he said in the hearing was reminiscent of a Gülen book, Çiçek said: “I haven’t read the books [of Gülen], but it appears the lawyer has. He knows them very well. I am now informing the court that this lawyer is a Gülenist.”

Çiçek’s words delighted the defendants, who applauded him. Then Giray and some complainants in the courtroom objected to their clapping.

Giray broke off the hearing and emptied the courtroom after some complainants started throwing water bottles and wanted to attack them.

A total of 486 people accused of taking part in the coup attempt are standing trial. The suspects, who were thought to have received orders from Akıncı Airbase, were allegedly plotting to assassinate Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the night of the coup attempt.

According to the Turkish government, Akıncı Airbase, northwest of Ankara, served as the headquarters for plotters, and the orders to bomb Parliament and overthrow Erdoğan were sent out from there.

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