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Turkey’s trial of the century
Church, state, and secret societies clash in Ergenekon coup case
W

hat happened
Turkey opened its trial against 86 people—including retired generals and journalists—accused of bomb-throwing, murdering a judge and five others, and plotting to overthrow the state. The defendants are alleged members of a secret ultranationalist group, Ergenekon, that seeks to undermine social order and provoke a military coup. (The New York Times)

What the commentators said
This is Turkey’s “trial of the century,” said Bulent Kenes in Britain’s The Guardian. Why? Turkey has long been “characterized by an abundance of mysterious murders” and other shadowy violence, and this indictment shows that much of it, back to 1952, can be tied to Ergenekon and its predecessors. This trial lets the country confront its “dark past.”

Well, “to call the trial controversial would be an understatement,” said Michael van der Galien in PoliGazette. Most Turks believe that there is something to the charges, but are “skeptical about the government’s far-reaching claims.” The trial is—at least in part—part of the Islamist government's crackdown on its moderate secularist opponents.

The trial does seem to mix real conspirators with innocent critics, said Pelin Turgut in TIME online. But its biggest shortfall is in not covering “the murky Kurdish conflict in southeast Turkey,” in which hundreds of prominent Kurds were mysteriously murdered in the 1980s and ’90s. This trial might shine some much-needed light in Turkey, but some topics are still off-limits.

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