Judges set to hand down verdict in Turkey coup trial
SILIVRI, Turkey |
SILIVRI, Turkey (Reuters) - Judges were set to hand down a verdict on Friday in the trial of hundreds of Turkish military officers accused of plotting to overthrow the government, a case which has underlined civilian dominance over Turkey's once all-powerful army.
Defendants made their final pleas on Thursday in the two-year "Sledgehammer" trial, which revolves around a 2003 military seminar that prosecutors say was part of a plot to overthrow Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government.
The judges went into recess to consider their verdict but said they would have to reconvene on Friday.
"We weren't able to reach a verdict despite a meeting that lasted for more than seven hours due to the high number of defendants," said Omer Diken, the head of a three-judge panel hearing the case.
"We will continue tomorrow ... when we will announce the verdict," he said.
The conspiracy is alleged to have included plans to bomb historic mosques in Istanbul and trigger conflict with Greece to pave the way for an army takeover.
Prosecutors have demanded 15-20 year jail sentences for the 365 defendants, 364 of them serving and retired officers.
The Turkish army has traditionally played a dominant role in politics, staging three coups between 1960 and 1980 and pushing the country's first Islamist-led government from office in 1997.
Its authority has been reined in sharply since Erdogan first came to power nearly a decade ago and the trial has been seen as a show of strength by a government that has emerged from its shadow.
All but a few of the defense lawyers were absent from the final hearing in protest at the judges' decision to reject demands for further investigation into the authenticity of documents key to the prosecution's case.
"As the trials so far have not been fair and lawful, the verdict can only be political," said Bilgin Balanli, a four-star general who was among the defendants to make a final plea on Thursday.
"This verdict will not be made about us, it will be made against the Turkish armed forces," he told the court.
Families and supporters of the defendants chanted slogans and sang the national anthem outside the courtroom, some 100 km (62 miles) northwest of Istanbul.
(Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Diana Abdallah)
- Tweet this
- Share this
- Digg this