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Erdogan "assassination plot" trial starts in Turkey

Erdogan "assassination plot" trial starts in TurkeyMore than 40 Turkish soldiers are facing trial as they accused of attempting to assassinate President Tayyip Erdogan during last year's failed coup, with prosecutors seeking life sentences, Reuters reported on Monday.

Under tight security, the defendants were bussed in to a courthouse in the southwestern city of Mugla, not far from the luxury resort where Erdogan and his family narrowly escaped the soldiers, fleeing in a helicopter shortly before their hotel was attacked.

More than 240 people were killed during the July 15 failed coup, when a group of rogue soldiers commandeered tanks, warplanes and helicopters, attacking parliament and attempting to overthrow the government.

On Monday, prosecutors in Mugla charged 47 suspects, almost all of them soldiers, with multiple charges including attempting to assassinate the president, breaching the constitution and membership of an armed terrorist organization, according to the indictment, obtained by Reuters.

Turkey says the coup was orchestrated by a U.S.-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen. The cleric, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, has denied the charges and condemned the coup.

Since the failed coup, more than 40,000 people have been arrested and more than 100,000 have been sacked or suspended from the military, civil service and private sector.

Turkey launched its first criminal trial related to the coup in December and more trials are expected.

A crowd of some 200 people gathered near the courthouse waving flags and calling for the death penalty for suspects.

Turkey formally abandoned the death penalty as part of its 2002 European Union accession talks. Since the coup, crowds have repeatedly called for it to be restored, a move that would likely spell the end of Turkey's bid to join the EU.

According to the indictment, some 37 soldiers were charged with a having a direct role in the storming of the luxury Grand Yazici Club Turban, others are those who provided assistance to the operation.

The soldiers in helicopters descended on the hotel in Marmaris, on ropes, shooting, just after Erdogan had left.
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