End near for trial of 275 terror suspects

March 19, 2013 at 11:19 AM

ISTANBUL, Turkey, March 19 (UPI) -- The existence of the Ergenekon criminal network has been proven, a prosecutor has told a panel of Turkish judges in his final opinion in the case.

The presentation of prosecutor Mehmet Ali Pekguzel's 2,271-page opinion means the trial, which began in 2008, will soon end, Today's Zaman reported Tuesday.

Some 275 defendants have been charged with membership in Ergenekon, a secretive organization that used social and psychological engineering to promote its ultranationalist ideology.

The prosecutor is seeking life sentences for 64 suspects who include retired Gen. Ilker Basbug, a former chief of General Staff; three retired military officers; two journalists and a union leader.

Basbug was initially charged with establishing and administering a terrorist organization but Pekguzel now wants him convicted of attempting to overthrow the government.

The prosecutor wants 96 other suspects to receive prison sentences of up to 15 years on charges they were members of a terrorist organization.

Five other suspects, including the former mayor of Istanbul, fled the country after the investigation began in 2007.

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