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Turkey's failed coup: verdicts expected today ahead of election rerun

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Turkey's failed coup: verdicts expected today ahead of election rerun
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Verdicts are expected later today in the trial of 224 suspects relating to the failed coup in Turkey three years ago.

The defendants include high profile military figures such as the former military aide to President Erdogan and former head of Air Forces.

The suspects are accused of killing civilians and security officials in a coup that saw the death of 265 people just short of three years ago. Prosecutors are asking for hundreds of life sentences for the murder of civilians and plotting to kill the president.

The trial, which began more than two years ago, has been held inside a courtroom within a prison complex in the capital, Ankara.

What happened?

In July 2016 the Turkish military staged a coup d'etat in a protest against corruption in Turkey's government.

The military claimed to have taken back the country in the name of democratic order, which was not being fulfilled by the ruling government. The group asserted at the time of the coup that Turkey would not be ruled by a "peace council." The ruling government however, said that the coup was organised by a just minority group within the military.

Encouraged by President Erdogan, thousands of citizens took to the streets in support of the government.

Senior military figures denounced the coup several hours after it began. It quickly became clear that the uprising was failing.

After government forces had quashed the rebels, the Prime Minister said that nearly 3,000 military personnel were detained.

Since the coup

After the uprising, the Turkish government seized the opportunity to change the constitution to give more power to the president. Erdogan and his supporters argued that Turkey's extensive history of coups rendered a stronger ruling core necessary. The constitutional change passed by a very close majority of 51%.

These changes were planned to come into effect after the March 2019 elections. The results of these elections however, were scrapped after Erdogan's ruling party lost to the primary opposition. This election, which Erdogan described as a "matter of survival for Turkey" was the first time Erdogan's AK Party had lost an election in over two decades.

Istanbul is set to return to the polls again on Sunday however for Istanbul's mayoral elections.

Upcoming elections

President Erdogan has taken serious measures in an attempt to win voters.

"We can't hand our Istanbul to these liars," he announced from atop a bus on Tuesday.

Erdogan has aligned the opposition's mayoral candidate Ekrem Imamoglu with the instigators of the 2016 coup during his campaign.

The elections on Sunday will prove pivotal in determining if Erdogan's iron grip on Turkey still holds. The loss of these elections would further embarrass the strongman leader after his party annulled the March results.

Furthermore, the success of these elections would entail the AKP to reap rewards sown by the party to strengthen the power of the executive following the 2016 coup.