Failed coup attempt generals appear before court for first time
AA photoThe Ankara 17th High Criminal Court has begun a high-profile case against a total of 221 suspects, including former high-ranking generals who have been accused of perpetrating a bloody July 2016 coup attempt against a backdrop of pro-government protests.
Some 38 former four-star generals that made up the “Peace in the Homeland Council,” the leading body of the foiled coup, were brought to the specifically built Sincan Prison Campus Complex, on the outskirts of Ankara, amid heavy security measures.
Prosecutors have demanded 2,988 life sentences for each of the suspects, the highest ever sentence sought for suspects in Turkish history, for “attempting to abolish the Turkish Parliament by using force and violence,” “attempting to abolish the Turkish government by using force and violence,” “managing an armed organization,” “attempting to assassinate the president,” “killing 250 citizens,” “injuring 2,735 citizens,” and “restricting the liberty of state officials.”
Fethullah Gülen, who is regarded as the head of Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), is the main suspect in the case, while 38 soldiers, including former top soldiers Akın Öztürk, Semih Terzi and Mehmet Dişli were cited as constituting the Peace in the Nation Council.
Adil Öksüz, a fugitive academic, was also listed among the suspects in the indictment.
Although there are a number of other prosecutor’s indictments against Öksüz, who was regarded as the Gülen movement’s top figure in the Turkish Air Force, as one of the key suspects in the coup attempt, the Ankara Prosecutor’s Office’s investigation named the fugitive Öksüz as the council’s top name for the trial in question.
The name of the Peace in the Homeland Council was first heard on the night of the coup when a statement from the coup plotters was aired on state-run TRT.
Öksüz was detained a day after the July 15, 2016, coup attempt but was released by a judge. He has not been seen since.
The indictment also includes claims against Maj.-Gen. Mehmet Dişli, who is accused of holding Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar at gunpoint and trying to force him to make a declaration.
On the night, Akar and a number of high-ranking soldiers were held captive by coup plotters and then brought to the Akıncı Air Base in rural Ankara, the main location from which the coup activities were coordinated.
Of the 221 defendants, 200 are currently imprisoned, nine are released pending trial, and 12 are on the run, including Gülen himself.
Paraded in front of angry crowd
Some 48 defendants including the alleged members of the Peace in the Homeland Council were brought to the courtroom by foot, flanked by two guards and a soldier in the midst of chants from an angry crowd.
Protesters who were allowed to enter the Sincan Prison Campus outside of the courthouse just for the occasion chanted in favor of the death penalty for the suspects.
Former Air Force Cmdr. Akın Öztürk was the first to be marched to the courthouse before being followed by General Staff Personnel Plan Management Office head Mehmet Partigöç, Gökhan Sönmez Şahinateş, as well as Dişli.
The suspects who were paraded before the protesters were each photographed before entering the courthouse.
The hearing was attended by some ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmakers, along with some nongovernmental organizations, including the “July 15 Committee.”