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Thousands protest over coup trial

Police have used water cannon and pepper spray to disperse thousands of demonstrators who gathered outside a court Turkey in a show of solidarity with 300 people on trial accused of plotting to overthrow prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government.

Many of the protesters tried to break through barricades mounted around the court in Istanbul's outskirts, shouting anti-government slogans.

The defendants, meanwhile, were delivering final defence statements at the trial that is nearing its end. Sixty-four of them, including journalists, politicians and retired generals, face life in prison for their involvement in an alleged pro-secularist plot in 2003 aiming to foment chaos and trigger a military takeover.

Critics say the trial is based on feeble evidence and is a government ploy to muzzle secularist opponents.

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