In Turkey, the mass trial of eight hundred and three people, charged with sectarian rioting, began in Adana on Monday (4 June).
In Turkey, the mass trial of eight hundred and three people, charged with sectarian rioting, began in Adana on Monday (4 June). A total of one hundred and eleven people died in the riots in the southern township of Kahramanmaras last December. The three days of riots led the government to impose martial law in most parts of the country.
Security was very heavy for the trial, which is expected to last for many months. Adana, is bout ninety miles (150 kilometres) from Kahramanmaras, but both come under the same martial law command, and it was felt safer to hold the trial away from where the riots occurred. The riots had largely politically motives, but developed into sectarian massacres between right-wing Sunni Moslems and left-wing Alevi -- or Shi'ite -- Moslems.
the defendants are mainly workers, students, teachers and housewives, and they include fifty-seven women. Altogether, three hundred and thirty of them could be hanged if the tribunal convicts them of "armed insurrection and causing massacre". Other charges include manslaughter, looting, arson, inciting to crime, and possessing or using explosives. Ten of the women facing the death penalty are mothers, with a total of forty children.
At the trial, held in an indoor basketball stadium, the defendants confronted three judges seated under a huge Turkish flag.
The defendants were flanked by fifty-six lawyers, with members of the public and the Press perched in grandstand seats along the sides and rear of the arena. The trial is the largest in Turkey since former Prime Minister Adnan Menderes was tried for treason after a military coup in 1960. He and two of his Ministers were hanged. Most of the first day of the current trial was given over to a roll-call of the defendants.
The remainder of the first week was expected to be occupied with the reading of a two hundred and forty-page indictment, which six military prosecutors have drawn up.