A court in Turkey is set to rule on the case of 275 defendants including a former army chief accused of plotting to overthrow the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The court will deliver its verdict on Monday in the high-profile case, which involves former military chief Ilker Basbug and other Turkish army officers as well as lawyers, academics and journalists. The defendants were detained five years ago and face dozens of charges ranging from membership in an underground “terrorist organization” dubbed Ergenekon to arson, illegal weapons possession, and instigating an armed uprising against Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), which came to power in 2002. The Turkish government says the Ergenekon organization aims to set the scene for a military coup by spreading chaos and fear across the country. Thousands of supporters of the defendants are expected to turn out at the courthouse. Turkish authorities have stepped up security and doubled the number of metal barriers in case of unrest. Hundreds of riot police blocked access to the court in the town of Silivri near Istanbul, allowing in only suspects, lawyers, journalists and members of parliament, as the hearing opened. The move comes after Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu said on Friday that a planned demonstration in front of the court would not be allowed and would be considered “illegal.”