ISTANBUL -- A controversial Turkish Islamic televangelist and cult leader has gone on trial on more than a dozen charges, including forming a criminal gang, blackmail and sexual abuse of minors.
The trial against Adnan Oktar and 225 of his followers or associates opened in Istanbul on Tuesday.
They were arrested last year following police raids in Istanbul and other cities. The arrests came after Turkey's media watchdog imposed fines on Oktar's TV channel and suspended broadcasts of shows where the televangelist held Islamic theological discussions surrounded by glamorous women known as "kittens."
Oktar has rejected the accusations, against him insisting that he is the victim of a plot.
The televangelist — who uses the pen name Harun Yahya — has authored numerous books promoting creationism against Darwin's theory of evolution.