ISTANBUL - Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's decade-old battle with secularist opponents in Turkey is approaching a decisive moment as nearly 300 people charged with attempting the violent overthrow of his government prepare their final defences.

In a courthouse within a huge prison complex near Istanbul, a state prosecutor will sum up his case this week against the defendants accused of membership of "Ergenekon", an alleged underground network of nationalist coup plotters.

The trial has drawn accusations of political influence over the judiciary. The defendants are a diverse crowd including politicians, academics, journalists and retired army officers, notably former armed forces chief Ilker Basbug.

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