- POSTED: 12 Jun 2014 18:20
More than two dozen anti-government protesters in Turkey went on trial on Thursday, in what the Amnesty International denounced as a "show trial".
ISTANBUL: More than two dozen anti-government protesters in Turkey went on trial on Thursday, in what the Amnesty International denounced as a "show trial".
An Istanbul court began hearing the case against 26 members of the Taksim Solidarity umbrella group, who are accused of leading the protests that erupted in June 2013 and posed the biggest challenge yet to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's 11-year rule.
The activists, who include doctors, architects and engineers, face charges including founding a crime syndicate, violating public order and organising illegal protests through social media and face up to 29 years if convicted.
Last June's protests started as a small environmentalist movement to stop the re-development of Istanbul's Gezi Park and quickly blew up into wider nationwide demonstrations against Erdogan's authoritarian style that left at least eight people dead and some 8,000 injured after police brutally cracked down on protesters.
Amnesty International urged the Turkish authorities to abandon what it called a "show trial".
"This is a vindictive, politically motivated show trial without a shred of evidence of actual crimes. It should be stopped at the first hearing," Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International's researcher on Turkey, said in a statement.
"The prosecution has concocted a case simply to send a strong message to the rest of Turkey that the authorities will ruthlessly pursue anyone who dissents and organises protests against government policies."