Almost 500 people appeared in court yesterday 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.
Charged with crimes ranging from murder, violating the constitution and attempting to kill Erdogan, a total of 486 suspects will go on trial in a purpose-built courtroom outside the capital Ankara, Tuesday.
Numerous suspects Tuesday face life in prison for crimes including murder and attempting to overthrow the government.
Considered the plotters' headquarters, the airbase was reportedly used to coordinate the coup and direct the bombing of key government buildings, reports the Washington Post.
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. Gulen, who is based in a secluded compound in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, strongly denies the charges.
The trial is one of dozens that are under way in Turkey in relation to the failed putsch that resulted in about 250 deaths in July 2016. The base was seen as the coup bid headquarters where commands were given for the F-16 fighter jets to attack and fly them above the capital.
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A total of 461 defendants are behind bars while 18 were freed pending the outcome of the trial.
Following the coup, the government instituted a strict state of emergency, granting itself wide-ranging powers.
Businessman Kemal Batmaz, meanwhile, is accused of assisting Oksuz. Turkey's military chief Gen. Hulusi Akar and other commanders were held captive for several hours at the base on the night of the coup.
Adil Oksuz, a former theology lecturer, reportedly convinced the security forces who rounded him up to belileve that he was looking for an estate ground to purchase in the vicinity of the air base. Some 30 coup plotters were also killed.
The Ankara coup trial is expected to last at least a month. Turkish officers at the base loyal to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan were allegedly held hostage.