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Monday, 16 October, 2000, 12:48 GMT
Turkey tries Islamic leader in absentia

The trial has begun in Turkey of a prominent Islamic leader, Fethullah Gulen, on charges of plotting to overthrow the secular constitution.

Mr Gulen, who's being tried in his absence, is accused of seeking to establish an Islamic state and running an illegal organisation of followers working within the civil service, police and education service.

He faces up to ten years in prison if found guilty.

Mr Gulen is currently in the United States; the court was presented with a report from doctors saying he was unfit to travel to Turkey because of medical problems. The authorities began investigating Mr Gulen after a videotape was leaked to the media last year in which he allegedly urged his supporters in the state bureaucracy to lie low and await his orders to undermine the system from within.

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