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Several suspects freed pending end of Turkey coup trial
by Staff Writers
Ankara (AFP) Sept 06, 2013


Turkey police fire tear gas at Ankara protesters: report
Ankara (AFP) Sept 06, 2013 - Turkish riot police on Friday confronted hundreds of university students in Ankara throwing stones and erecting barricades in protest against a project to build a road across part of their campus.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at between 200 and 300 protesters who gathered at the entrance of Middle East Technical University (METU), images broadcast on local television showed.

Police detained 14 people earlier in the afternoon during a demonstration against the city's plans, which include uprooting a large number of trees both inside and outside the campus.

University students began a sit-in protest to the plans for the campus -- one of the largest green spaces in the Turkish capital -- in the summer.

Meanwhile Istanbul authorities on Friday closed the central Gezi Park -- the epicentre of anti-government protests in June -- to the public and deployed police units in the area.

Armoured police took up positions around the park as calls for demonstrations were launched on social networks to protest the police repression in Ankara.

A peaceful sit-in to save Gezi Park and its 600 trees from being razed prompted a brutal police response on May 31, spiralling into nationwide protests against the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, seen as increasingly authoritarian.

Five people were killed and thousands injured during the unrest, which presented the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government with its biggest challenge since it came to power in 2002.

An Ankara court has released from jail 10 suspects, including high-ranking officers, pending the outcome of their trial for their alleged role in the 1997 bloodless coup that toppled the Islamist government.

The court on Wednesday released former four-star general Teoman Koman from custody due to ill health. Eight other former officers and a civilian suspect were released on Thursday for medical reasons or on the grounds they did not pose a flight risk.

The suspects had been in custody since 2012, and although the court did not set bail the court ordered them not to leave the country.

A further 27 retired officers on trial in the same case remain in jail.

A total 103 people, including ex-army chief General Ismail Hakki Karadayi, stand accused of overthrowing the government in the trial that began Monday.

Prosecutors have spent the last week reading out the charges.

They have called for a life sentence for Karadayi, 81, who did not attend the hearings due to ill health.

The trial, expected to last several weeks, concerns the toppling in 1997 of Turkey's first Islamist prime minister, Necmettin Erbakan, the political mentor of current Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The army brought down Erbakan's government without violence and did not install a military administration to replace the civilian cabinet. It became known as the "postmodern coup" as no troops were involved.

Karadayi has denied that the army's actions were tantamount to a coup.

The army, which sees itself as the guarantor of Turkey's secular principles, had overthrown three earlier administrations since 1960.

Since coming to power in 2002, Erdogan's Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has reined in the once-powerful military through a series of court cases.

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