Mass trial of Turkey alleged coup ringleaders resumes

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (2nd R),Speaker of the Grand National Assembly, Ismail Kahraman (L) Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (2nd L), and Kemal Kilicdaroglu (R), head of the Republican People's Party (CHP) visit the Anitkabir, the mausoleum of the founder of the Turkish Republic Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, during a ceremony marking the 94th anniversary of Republic Day on October 29, 2017 in Ankara. (AFP)
Updated 30 October 2017
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Mass trial of Turkey alleged coup ringleaders resumes

ANKARA: A mass trial in Turkey is set to resume Monday of more than 220 suspects, including former generals, accused of being among the ringleaders of last year’s coup bid to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The suspects face life sentences if convicted of charges ranging from using violence to try to overthrow the government and parliament, to killing nearly 250 people.
Turkey blames the July 15, 2016 coup attempt on Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a claim he strongly denies.
Gulen, who lives in self-imposed exile in the United States, is among several of the 221 suspects named in the indictment but are on the run, with the rest set to appear in court.
The attempted coup left 249 people dead, not counting 24 coup-plotters killed on the night of the putsch attempt.
Also among the suspects in one of Turkey’s highest-profile prosecutions are several high-ranking military officers including ex-air force commander Akin Ozturk.
Several of those on trial are accused of leading the so-called “Peace At Home Council,” the name the plotters are said to have given themselves the night of the failed overthrow.
The case is being heard in Sincan near the capital Ankara, at a facility that was purpose-built to hear coup-related trials.
In the opening trial in May, alleged coup plotters were booed by protesters as they entered the courtroom, with some shouting slogans in favor of “death penalty” for the suspects.
The trial is one of many being held across the country to judge the coup suspects in what is the biggest legal process of Turkey’s modern history.
The government has launched a massive crackdown under state of emergency laws imposed in the wake of the failed coup which have been extended several times.
Over 140,000 people, including public sector employees, have been sacked or suspended over alleged links to the coup while 50,000 people have been arrested since July 2016.
This week will also see other hearings in Istanbul including journalists from opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper who are standing trial on charges of aiding and abetting terrorist organizations.
One of Turkey’s acclaimed authors Asli Erdogan will appear before a court Tuesday on charges of spreading terror propaganda on account of her links to a pro-Kurdish newspaper.
In December she was released pending trial, after 132 days of pre-trial detention.
Last week, an Istanbul court ordered the release on judicial control of eight human rights activists including Amnesty International’s Turkey director Idil Eser, as well as a German and a Swede.
The cases involving journalists have received criticism from human rights advocates who claim the government is seeking to stifle dissent.


Congo rebels kill 15, abduct kids in Ebola outbreak region

Updated 9 min 25 sec ago
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Congo rebels kill 15, abduct kids in Ebola outbreak region

  • “We condemn this attack,” said WHO’s director-general
  • Allied Democratic Forces rebels attacked Congolese army positions and several neighborhoods of Beni on Saturday and into Sunday

JOHANNESBURG: Congolese rebels killed 15 civilians and abducted a dozen children in an attack at the center of the latest deadly Ebola outbreak, Congo’s military said Sunday, as the violence threatened to again force the suspension of crucial virus containment efforts.
“We condemn this attack,” said the World Health Organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Everyone should work on achieving peace and fight Ebola.”
Allied Democratic Forces rebels attacked Congolese army positions and several neighborhoods of Beni on Saturday and into Sunday, Capt. Mak Hazukay Mongha told The Associated Press. The UN peacekeeping mission said its troops exchanged fire with rebels in the Mayangose area of Beni.
Angry over the killings, Beni residents on Sunday carried four of the bodies to the town hall, where police dispersed them with tear gas. Vehicles of aid organizations and the peacekeeping mission were pelted with stones, the UN-backed Radio Okapi reported.
The ADF rebels have killed hundreds of civilians in recent years and are just one of several militias active in Congo’s far northeast.
Late last month, Ebola outbreak containment efforts were suspended for days in Beni after a deadly attack, complicating work to find and track suspected contacts of infected people. Since then, many of the new confirmed Ebola cases have been reported in Beni as the rate of new cases overall has more than doubled, alarming aid groups.
The latest attack comes after two medical agents with the Congolese army were shot dead — the first time health workers have been killed by rebels in this outbreak.
It is a “dark day” for everyone fighting Ebola, Congo’s health minister said late Saturday while announcing the deaths.
Mai Mai rebels surged from the forest and opened fire on the unarmed agents with the army’s rapid intervention medical unit at an entrance to Butembo city, the health ministry said.
The daytime attack appeared premeditated, with civilians present left unharmed, the statement said. The medical agents had been placed in “dangerous zones” to assist national border health officials.
Confirmed Ebola cases have now reached 200, including 117 deaths.
Health workers in this outbreak, declared on Aug. 1, have described hearing gunshots daily, operating under the armed escort of UN peacekeepers or Congolese security forces and ending work by sundown to lower the risk of attack.
Congo’s health ministry has reported “numerous aggressions” against health workers. Early this month two Red Cross volunteers were severely injured in a confrontation with wary community members in a region traumatized by decades of fighting and facing an Ebola outbreak for the first time.
“Health agents are not a target for armed groups,” Health Minister Oly Ilunga said on Saturday. “Our agents will continue to go into the field each day to fulfill the mission entrusted to them. They are true heroes and we will continue to take all necessary measures so that they can do their job safely.”
On Wednesday, WHO said it was “deeply concerned” by the outbreak but announced it does not yet warrant being declared a global emergency. An outbreak must be “an extraordinary event” that might cross borders, requiring a coordinated response. Confirmed cases have been found near the heavily traveled border with Uganda.
In the latest example of the rumors that pose another serious challenge to containing the virus, the health ministry said 22 youth in Butembo dug up the body of an Ebola victim and opened the body bag, “wanting to verify that no organs had been taken from the body by health workers.”
They ended up touching highly infectious bodily fluids, the ministry said. “The next day, they agreed to be vaccinated,” joining the more than 20,000 people who have received vaccinations so far.