Turkey’s former army chief Ilker Basbug went on trial Monday on charges of leading a terrorist group accused of plotting to overthrow the Islamist-rooted government, local media said. Basbug, who was chief of staff from 2008 to 2010, has been in custody since January and risks life in prison if convicted in a case that has inflamed tensions between the government and the powerful military. He is the most senior officer to be implicated in a massive probe into the so-called Ergenekon network, accused of plotting to topple Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP). Basbug, 68, branded the charges against him as “tragi-comic” when he was arrested in January. At the start of the hearing in a court in Silivri, outside Istanbul, Basbug’s lawyer called for his client to be tried by the supreme court but the demand was rejected, the Anatolia news agency reported.