Key trial of last year's coup attempt begins in Ankara

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Nearly 500 people arrested after last year's failed coup in Turkey have appeared in court accused of taking part in the plot. Some lawyers hit tables to protest the "physical intervention" by some of the victims' families as they walked past them, the agency said.

The key suspect is Fethullah Gulen, a US -based cleric, who is accused by Ankara of being behind the coup attempt.

The trial, which is expected to last at least a month, is one of dozens underway in Turkey in relation to the coup attempt that resulted in 249 deaths. He rejects the charges and denies any involvement in the coup attempt.

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The suspects - 461 of them now in prison, 18 released under judicial supervision, and seven fugitives - are on trial over their alleged actions centered on a military base in Ankara, then known as the 4th Akinci Main Jet Base, which was used as a headquarters by some pro-coup soldiers.

Former air force commander Akin Ozturk and other defendants stationed at an air base northwest of the capital are accused of directing the coup and bombing government buildings, including parliament, and attempting to kill President Tayyip Erdogan. Prosecutors say the base was a headquarters for pro-coup soldiers. Businessman Kemal Batmaz is meanwhile accused of assisting Oksuz. Turkey's military chief Hulusi Akar and other commanders were held captive for several hours at the base on the night of the coup. The Turkish parliament was bombed three times by F-16s.

Two weeks ago, more than 7,563 people including police, civil servants and academics were dismissed in Turkey after the government issued a new decree under the ongoing state of emergency imposed after last year's failed coup.

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And in May, 221 suspects were put on trial accused of being the ringleaders of the failed coup. Some 30 coup plotters were also killed. A total of 1,300 security personnel were deployed inside and outside the courtroom.

The government declared a state of emergency after the coup attempt and embarked on a large-scale crackdown that has alarmed Western allies of Ankara, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member and candidate for European Union membership.

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