Nearly 500 in court in Turkey's biggest trial over coup attempt

Defendants are escorted under heavy security to court in the capital, Ankara, on Tuesday.

Story highlights

  • Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen is among those charged in absentia
  • Indictment asks for life in prison without parole for nearly 50 defendants

Istanbul, Turkey (CNN)Nearly 500 people accused of plotting to overthrow the Turkish government last year are in court on Tuesday in the country's largest mass trial over the failed coup.

In a courthouse built specifically to try cases linked with the coup attempt, 486 went on trial on a long list of charges, including trying to assassinate the President, leading an armed terrorist organization and homicide, state-run news agency Anadolu reports.
    Around 250 people were killed in the July 2016 attempted coup, many of them Turkish civilians. Anadolu reports that Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen was one of seven people who had been formally charged in absentia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses Gulen of masterminding the coup attempt.
    Gulen, who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, has vehemently denied involvement in the plot.
    Defendants Kemal Batmaz (center) and Akin Ozturk (second left in row behind) arrive for their trial on Tuesday. Batmaz is a civilian and Ozturk served as a four-star general.
    The indictment -- which is more than 4,500 pages long -- asks for life in prison without parole for nearly 50 of the defendants. It accuses the defendants of bombing the Turkish Parliament, roads and bridges around the presidential palace and the special forces directorate by aircraft.
    Among those indicted are generals who allegedly oversaw the coup attempt, pilots and civilian coordinators. One pilot is accused of flying an F-16 jet that struck Parliament.