World Bulletin / News Desk
The first trial hearing for 67 suspected Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) members accused to trying to overthrow the constitutional order during last year’s coup attempt began on Monday.
The suspects were allegedly involved in an attempt to occupy Istanbul Police Headquarters as well as violence on the city’s Esenler Birlik Bridge, where five people were martyred.
The hearing at the 13th Criminal Court at Istanbul’s Silivri prison was attended by 25 of the suspects with their lawyers.
Mithat Aynaci, the former head of Istanbul's Security Directorate, who was arrested after being caught in a tank dressed in military uniform, is among the 23 ranking officers and 44 privates charged.
Aynaci was suspended from duty in November 2014 over suspected links to FETO, and later dismissed.
The indictment recommends three aggravated life sentences and up to 15 years in jail for all of the suspects, who stand accused of attempting to abolish the constitutional order, overturn parliament, and oust the government, as well as terrorist group membership.
Some are also facing additional sentences of up to 990 years of jail for murder, intentional injury, and property damage, among other offenses.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and some 2,200 injured.
Turkey accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.
Separately, a court in the southeastern Gaziantep province had its first hearing for 19 suspects linked to events the night of the defeated coup.
The indictment seeks up to five aggravated life sentences and 50 years in jail for each suspect.
The suspects, posing as soldiers, allegedly attacked the principle of “one state, one nation, one flag” in Silopi in the Sirnak province, said Mehmet Eyup Ozkececi, the Gaziantep provincial head of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party.
“Today, Sirnak-based traitors of the southeast will be tried. We trust the supremacy of Turkish justice. These traitors will get the punishment they deserve. We will not be involved in the case; we are only observers. Because we represent 80 million [Turkish citizens] here,” he said.