Courts across the country will hold 39 trials this month regarding the crimes of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and its July 15, 2016, coup attempt that killed 251 people. A total of 3,244 defendants will be back on the dock in trials in 14 cities, mostly in Istanbul and capital Ankara.
FETÖ, which posed as a charity with religious undertones for decades, had launched two coup attempts in 2013 through its infiltrators in the judiciary and law enforcement. The group failed but it tried again in 2016, this time employing its military infiltrators. The latest coup attempt was a turning point in the fight against the terrorist group and authorities responded it with a massive crackdown on tens of thousands of secret members of the group. Since the coup attempt, more lawsuits have been filed against FETÖ. In April, 13 trials with a large number of defendants will be held regarding the 2016 coup attempt. Defendants are mostly military officers, from generals to noncommissioned officers. Separately, some 26 trials implicating FETÖ's civilian members for membership of a terrorist group and a series of other crimes will be held this month. A total of 2,296 defendants will be on the dock in coup-related trials while 948 others will attend hearings in other trials.
The first hearing of the month is linked to a coup attempt in Gendarme General Command in the capital Ankara. 245 defendants face aggravated life imprisonment and lesser prison terms in the trial. A new hearing in one of the biggest trials related to the coup attempt will also be held today in Ankara. 475 defendants are being tried in Akıncı air base trial. They include Akın Öztürk, a former general accused of serving as leader of putschists carrying out FETÖ's orders. Akıncı air base was command center for the putschists on July 15, 2016, and warplanes that took off from the base, carried out airstrikes against presidential complex, Parliament building and other strategic locations across Ankara during the putsch bid. The hearings are scheduled to continue until April 12. The trial is in its last stages with defendants giving their final defense after prosecutors gave a final plea and asked multiple life sentences for them. A ruling is expected on April 12, barring another postponement to the trial. Also in Ankara, 521 defendants will appear before the court in the new hearing of coup attempt's leg that involved the takeover of an elite guard unit of Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) tasked with protecting the president. Some 307 others will stand trial for a month-long hearing in incidents at a military academy for future officers of Land Forces of the Turkish military.
In FETÖ trials not related to the 2016 coup attempt, 108 defendants will appear before 23th High Criminal Court in Istanbul for the notorious match-fixing case. In twelve days of hearings, defendants will testify against allegations that FETÖ imprisoned executives of a top-flight football club on trumped-up match-fixing charges. FETÖ is already accused of carrying out a string of sham trials to imprison its critics, with the assistance of its infiltrators in the judiciary and law enforcement.
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