The trial has opened in Turkey of a teacher accused of sexually abusing 10 boys under his care at two religious foundations, a case that has shocked the country and led to accusations of a cover-up.

The 54-year-old man is charged with assaulting the boys, aged between 10 and 12, at boarding homes, one of which was run by a foundation linked to Turkey's ruling party. The first hearing was held Wednesday behind closed doors.

The country's minister for family affairs, Sema Ramazanoglu, sparked outcry after she described the assaults as a "one-off incident" and accused opposition parties of trying to besmirch the government-linked foundation.

The minister later survived a censure motion in parliament submitted by the opposition, which accused her of negligence in preventing violence against women and children.