NEARLY 500 suspects, including a number of generals and military pilots, have gone on trial in Turkey accused of leading last year’s failed coup attempt and carrying out attacks from an air base in Ankara.

US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom the government blames for the coup, has been named as the main defendant in the case and will be tried in absentia.

Former air force commander Akin Ozturk and other defendants stationed at Akinci air base, on the outskirts of the capital Ankara, are accused of directing the coup and bombing key government buildings, including the parliament.

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Many of the 486 suspects face life terms in prison for crimes that include violating the constitution, murder, and attempting to assassinate the president and overthrow the government.

The trial is one of dozens that are under way in Turkey in relation to the coup attempt on July 15 2016 that resulted in 249 deaths. Some 30 coup plotters were also killed.

The government says the coup was carried out by followers of Gulen’s movement, but the cleric has denied involvement.

The government says the coup plotters used Akinci air base as their headquarters.

Turkey’s military chief General Hulusi Akar and other commanders were held captive for several hours at the base on the night of the coup.