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.

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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.