News / Europe

Turkish Police Clash With Protesters at Conspiracy Trial

Security forces use water cannons to disperse protesters outside a courthouse where a hearing on people charged with attempting to overthrow Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist-rooted government is due to take place, in Silivri, Turkey, April 8, 2013.
Security forces use water cannons to disperse protesters outside a courthouse where a hearing on people charged with attempting to overthrow Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist-rooted government is due to take place, in Silivri, Turkey, April 8, 2013.
Reuters
Turkish police fired water cannons, teargas and pepper spray on Monday as they clashed with thousands of activists protesting outside a court in support of 275 people accused of plotting to topple the government, forcing a delay in the hearing.

Defendants in the trial of the "Ergenekon" group, an alleged underground network of secular arch-nationalists, were expected to begin their final defenses on Monday after prosecutors last month demanded life sentences for 64 of them.

Retired armed forces commander Ilker Basbug is among the defendants, including other military officers, politicians and academics, accused of attempting to stage a coup against Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist-rooted AK Party government.

Demonstrators outside the court at the high-security Silivri jail near Istanbul waved Turkish flags and banners of left-wing and nationalist groups as they fought to break through police barriers.

"We are Mustafa Kemal's [Ataturk] soldiers," the crowd chanted, referring to modern Turkey's founder, who is a figurehead for Turkish secularists.

Police clashed violently with demonstrators when trying to disperse the crowd. Strong winds blew the pepper spray into the court, affecting defendants, journalists and dozens of opposition lawmakers who were among the spectators.

Chief Judge Hasan Huseyin Ozese declined to launch the hearing given the chaotic scenes. It was not clear when the session would begin.

The four-year-old trial has drawn accusations of political influence over the judiciary. The process of defendants making their final defences is expected to take at least another two months, before a verdict is announced.

Ergenekon is allegedly behind much of the political violence, extra-judicial killings and bomb attacks which have troubled Turkey in recent decades - embodying anti-democratic forces which Erdogan says he has fought to stamp out.

Critics see the case as a ploy to stifle opposition, part of a grand plan by the leader to tame the secularist establishment, including an army that intervened to topple governments four times in the second half of the 20th century.

Investigation of the alleged conspiracy, which surfaced in 2007 when police discovered a cache of weapons in Istanbul, was initially welcomed by a public eager to see an end to the "Deep State" - a shadowy network of militant secularists long believed to have been pulling the strings of power.

Dissenting voices have grown over the last four years, though, with the European Commission expressing concern about the handling of Ergenekon and other conspiracy trials.

Last September, a court in Silivri jailed more than 300 military officers in another trial for plotting to overthrow Erdogan's government.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More