Aggravated life sentences sought for 25 defendants in corruption probe trial

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Fake US dollar notes showing the head of Turkey's then-Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan with a long nose are spread across a street leading to a building of Erdogan's ruling AK party during a protest against corruption in Ankara on February 28, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ADEM ALTAN

An İstanbul prosecutor is seeking aggravated life sentences for 25 defendants including Turkish-Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen and police chiefs on charges of attempting to overthrow the government due to their alleged involvement in a corruption investigation that became public knowledge in December 2013, the Anatolia news agency reported on Thursday.

In December 2013 Turkey was shaken by the revelation of two corruption investigations, on Dec. 17 and 25, in which the inner circle of then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were implicated.

After Erdoğan cast the investigations as a coup attempt to overthrow his government orchestrated by his political enemies, namely the Gülen movement inspired by the views of Fethullah Gülen, the prosecutors and judges were removed from the case, police were reassigned and the corruption investigations were dropped. Later, the police officers, judges and prosecutors who took part in the investigations were all jailed.

Gülen strongly denied any involvement in the corruption investigations.

The 114th hearing in the trial of 67 defendants, six of whom are at large and 14 in jail, including former police chiefs Yakub Saygılı, Nazmi Ardıç and Kazım Aksoy, was held at the İstanbul 14th High Criminal Court on Thursday.

The defendants for whom an aggravated life sentence is sought by the prosecutor face charges of attempting to overthrow the government of Turkey.

President Erdoğan, former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu and former minister Ömer Dinçer are co-plaintiffs in the trial who were represented by their lawyers on Thursday.

The next hearing in the trial was set for March 4.

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