Ankara, Oct 20 (DPA) The trial of 86 people accused of plotting to prepare the ground for a military coup got under way in Istanbul Monday.
The long-awaited trial of the so-called Ergenekon gang began some 17 months after police discovered hand grenades in an Istanbul house belonging to a former non-commissioned officer.
An investigation found that the grenades were from the same batch that was used in an attack on the Istanbul offices of Cumhuriyet newspaper in 2006.
Investigations into the attack on Cumhuriyet then expanded with prosecutors alleging that staunch secularists had planned to attempt to destabilize Turkey and create the conditions for the military to carry out a coup to depose the moderate Islamist government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Suspects on trial include retired generals, the leader of the Workers' Party, journalists and the former rector of Istanbul University.
Protesters demonstrated outside the court in the Silviri district of Istanbul Monday, claiming that the arrests and the trial are a government-inspired miscarriage of justice.
Opposition figures have accused the government of organising the arrests last month to take attention away from its alleged attempts to undermine the secular state and implement Sharia (Islamic) law.