A Turkish military court condemned 22 residents of one small town, to death on Friday (8 August).
CU PULL OUT GV PAN INTERIOR Judge reading indictment to accused in mass trial in Adana, Turkey
CU PULL OUT GV PAN Judge addressing accused, who are standing(2 shots)
GV (MONO) People marching down street
SV Troops searching people and inspecting coach (2 shots)
SV PAN Troops and armoured vehicles outside government offices
GV Troops stationed near roadside
SV Wooden coffins in ambulances (2 shots)
GV PAN Man on mosque minaret with troops on patrol outside (2 shots)
SV More coffins in ambulances
SV PAN Wrecked shop-front
SV Coffin carried onto truck with troops standing by
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Background: A Turkish military court condemned 22 residents of one small town, to death on Friday (8 August). Another 350 residents of the township of Kahramanmaras received sentences ranging from just a few years in prison to life. The defendants stood accused of taking part in political and sectarian riots in the town, in December, 1978.
SYNOPSIS: The mass trial of some 800 residents of Kahramanmaras began on June 4 1979. Since then the defendants have faced almost daily hearings before a military court. In nearby Adana the prosecutors had sought the death penalty for 267 people. Among the many charged were shopkeepers, workers, students, housewives and a few Moslem priests. The indictment alleged that a number of political extremists had provoked conservative Sunni Moslems to slaughter their minority Shi'ite Moslem neighbours.
The military judge hardly paused for breath during the final three-and-a-half hour session of the trial. The 800 defendants stood to hear him pronounce their sentences in a stifling indoor basketball arena, which had served as the courthouse for fourteen months. The judge sent 22 townspeople to the gallows, some 400 to prison and the rest back home to freedom.
For three days in December, 1978, neighbours who had lived an worked together in peace set on each other in riots which left at least Ill people dead and which precipitated the introduction of martial law; still in force in some of the country's provinces in Turkey.
Troops were soon stationed outside government offices in Ankara in the wake of the riots as violence erupted increasingly in Turkish towns and cities. Such violence and the 14-month military trial of the 800 inhabitants of Kahramanmaras reflected the volcanic political and religious feelings of Turks since the bloody December riots two years ago.
Witnesses at the trial described how a Moslem priest exhorted rightist Sunni Moslems to kill shi'ite families--evidence supported the indictment which accused the defendants of inciting the riots. The troubles originally started when a cinema in Kahramanmaras was bombed while a left-wing film was showing. Friday's sentences ended the final chapter of the tragedy of Kahramanmaras. Lawyers at the trial say it is likely that the 22 death penalties will be commuted to life imprisonment. The final decision rests with the Turkish parliament.