Trial in Turkey's controversial Ergenekon case resumes on Thurs

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Trial in Turkeys controversial Ergenekon case resumes on Thurs
Oluşturulma Tarihi: Ekim 23, 2008 09:43

The second day of hearings in Turkey's controversial Ergenekon case began on Thursday. (UPDATED)

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The court took special measures in the case after a session earlier in the week descended into chaos. Defendants and lawyers jamming the courtroom Monday complained they could not hear the proceedings, forcing a delay.

The court has ruled for the continued detainment of 46 suspects in the Ergenekon case, in which 86 people are accused of membership to a group that allegedly plotted to overthrow the country's Islamist-rooted government.

The Thursday hearing will be limited to 46 suspects jailed in the case. Another 40 suspects are free - and will be tried later. Each of the suspects in the Ergenekon case would be represented by a maximum of three lawyers. 

The court has also decided to allow reporters from only six Turkish news agencies into the room to the hearing.

A video screen was set up in an adjoining room for journalists and relatives of defendants to watch the courtroom proceedings at a prison complex in Silivri, a town outside Istanbul.

But the measures were quickly contested by the defence lawyers as a violation of their clients' rights.

"To limit the number of lawyers... when the indictment is 2,455 pages long and there are 450 folders of annexes is a breach of the right of defense," one of the lawyers was quoted by AFP as telling the court. 

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Ergenekon, one of the most controversial cases in modern Turkish history, has divided the public into three camps. 


One camp believes the case is being used as a cover by the government to suppress its opponents, while another camp, mostly pro-AKP experts and media organs, say the case major step in efforts to enhance Turkey's democracy.


The third camp, mostly academics and experts, believe the trial would not result in any concrete gains for democracy as the indictment for the case is weak.


Those indicted to stand trial will answer about 30 separate charges in the 2,455-page document, ranging from membership to a "terrorist organization" and instigating an armed uprising against the government, to arson and illegal possession of weapons.


The trial at the heavily-guarded Silivri prison on the outskirts of Istanbul is expected to take months to complete.

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The Ergenekon operation started in June 2007 with the discovery of grenades in a house in Istanbul’s Umraniye district. Since then over one hundred people have been detained in eight waves of arrests in the controversial operation.


Another indictment would be submitted for those detained in the latest three waves of the operation, including two retired generals, journalists, a business group leader and an actress.


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