Neşe İdil – ISTANBUL
As one year passed since the July 15, 2016, failed coup, indictments reveal the details of the events that unfolded on the night of the attempted takeover that left 250 people dead.
Dozens of indictments with thousands of pages have been prepared since the thwarted coup, with many citing Fethullah Gülen as the main suspect.
One of the most high-profile cases regarding the attempted takeover concerned the events at the General Staff headquarters on July 15, where Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi 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.
The indictment for 221 suspects identified 38 former four-star generals as constituting “Peace in the Nation Council,” a name first heard on the night of the coup when a statement from the coup plotters was aired through the state-run TRT.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
and Gen. Akar, along with generals affected by the attempted coup, are included in the indictment as victims.
The council members are accused of “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.”
The aggravated life sentences demanded amounted to the number of all those killed and injured in the coup attempt, amounting to a historic 2,988 life sentences for each of the soldiers, apart from Semih Terzi who was killed by non-commissioned officer Ömer Halisdemir, an anti-coup resistance hero.
The trials into the killing of Halisdemir, who shot pro-coup general Terzi after the latter arrived at the Gölbaşı Special Forces Command in Ankara, have also started with 18 suspects, who face multiple life sentences. Halisdemir was killed by Mihrali Atmaca and Fatih Şahin.
One of the key names in the indictment into the events at the General Staff headquarters is the former Air Force Commander Akın Öztürk, who was arrested on July 18. Another name who faces hundreds of years in jail is Mehmet Dişli, the brother of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmaker Şaban Dişli, who is accused of holding Akar at gunpoint. Prosecutors also seek hundreds of years in jail for Mehmet Partigöç, former Personnel Planning Management Department head of the military, in the indictment.
Levent Türkkan, Akar’s former top aide, is one of the 221 suspects in the indictment, of whom 200 are currently imprisoned, nine are released pending trial, and 12 are on the run, including Gülen himself. President Erdoğan’s former chief aide Ali Yazıcı is also named among the attempted takeover’s top organizers.
Yazıcı is also a suspect in the case into attempting to assassinate Erdoğan during July 2016 coup bid, in which 47 suspects are facing multiple charges.
In addition to former high-ranking generals, Adil Öksüz, a fugitive academic, was also listed among the suspects in the indictment into the events at the General Staff headquarters.
Öksüz’s release was one of the most controversial issues regarding the thwarted coup. After being detained near the Akıncı Air Base on July 16, Öksüz, known as the Gülen movement’s “imam of the Air Force,” was released by Judge Çetin Sönmez on July 18, after which he went on the run.
Being the main location from which coup activities were coordinated, Akıncı Air Base carries significance on how the events unfolded on July 15.
The top three suspects in the case into coup actions in Akıncı Air Base were revealed in an indictment that named Gülen as the prime suspect, while naming Öksüz and Kemal Batmaz second and third, respectively.
Batmaz was found near the Akıncı Air Base and defended himself by saying he was around looking for land and was later arrested.
Akar and force commanders were held captive by pro-coup soldiers. However, they were all later rescued in a special forces operation in the early hours of July 16, 2016.
Several warplanes used by coup soldiers to bomb Turkish Parliament and Gölbaşı Special Forces Command, where took off from the base. Spots ascending the Presidential Palace were also bombed by the coup pilots. Erdoğan, Parliament Speaker İsmail Kahraman, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ and the lawmakers that were subjected to bombing in the parliament are listed as complainants.
In the indictment that included a general, six major generals, 18 brigadier generals, 22 colonels, 26 lieutenant colonels, 33 majors, 56 captains, 62 first lieutenants, 115 second lieutenants, 131 non-commissioned officers and one specialized sergeant; six suspects were named as civilian managers of the coup attempt and four were named as civilian suspects.
The indictment also described the roles of civilians Öksüz, Batmaz, Harun Biniş, Nurettin Oruç and Hakan Çiçek during the thwarted coup.
Only Öksüz is at large among the five “civilian imams.”
The gendarmerie headquarters in Ankara’s Beştepe was also one of the sites where coup activities were conducted. Severe clashes took place between coup soldiers who were trying to take control of the HQ and police and gendarmerie personnel who tried to stop them.
Nine civilians and police officers lost their lives in the area after coup soldiers opened fire on civilians who tried to block the coup and came to the security gate of the gendarmerie headquarters.
Numbers of other indictments have been prepared for several coup attempt activities, including those in Istanbul, with the prime minister saying on July 13 that “it is too early to say ‘this issue is now over.’ Taking into account all factors such as the phenomenon’s size, the organization’s non-transparent structure and its complicated relations, surprising developments can happen.”
50,510 arrested in post-July 15 probes
Turkey has arrested a total of 50,510 people accused of having links to the Gülenists, the Justice Ministry said on July 13.
“Within the scope of investigations [launched after coup attempt], a total of 50,510 people have been arrested, including 169 generals, 7,098 colonels and lower ranking soldiers, 8,815 police department members, 24 governors, 73 deputy governors, 116 district governors, 2,413 judiciary members, and 31,784 other suspects,” the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry also said 169,013 suspects have so far faced legal proceedings on suspicion of links to FETÖ since last year’s coup attempt.
Among the 8,087 people sought over FETÖ charges and currently on the run, there are reportedly 152 soldiers, 392 police officers, three deputy governors, nine district governors, 265 judiciary members, and 7,266 other suspects.
A total of 48,439 people, including 3,046 soldiers, 5,024 police officers, nine governors, 27 deputy governors, 73 district governors, 1,219 judiciary members, and 39,041 other suspects, were released with a judicial control decision.
Of the arrested 2,413 judiciary members, some 2,280 were judges and public prosecutors, 105 were members of the Supreme Court of Appeals, 41 were members of the Council of State, two were members of the Constitutional Court, and three were members of the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors.
Tens of thousands of public employees have been dismissed with state of emergency decree laws for alleged links to Gülen.
A new commission called the “State of Emergency Procedures Investigation Commission” will begin receiving objections decree rulings, including dismissals, starting on July 17, Prime Minister Yıldırım said on July 12. A total of 110,000 applications are expected to be received by the commission in the first stage.
Around 105,000 are expected to be from police officers, military officers and civil servants. Some 33,000 teachers have been dismissed from their duties, Education Minister İsmet Yılmaz said on June 23.