Two more civilians spotted at coup base
Mesut Hasan Benli – ANKARATwo previously unnoticed civilians were present at a military base that spearheaded the July 15 coup attempt, according to Ankara prosecutors who have unearthed new footage recorded on the night.
According to the new footage examined and released by Ankara prosecutors on Nov. 2, Kemal Batmaz and Harun Biniş, who were detained and later arrested after being caught while fleeing in the morning of July 16 in a field near the Akıncı Military Base, were seen in the footage, strengthening suspicions that they played a key role in the coup attempt.
Adil Öksüz, the prime suspect in the coup, was also seen at the base that night, but he escaped after briefly being detained.
In their initial testimonies, both Batmaz and Biniş said they were near the based because they wished to buy a plot of land. After his capture, Öksüz also said he wished to purchase land in the area.
In the footage recorded via a surveillance camera at the base, both Batmaz and Biniş could be seen entering a room while a group of high-ranking soldiers were near him.
In another surveillance image recorded at Istanbul Atatürk Airport on July 13, Batmaz was spotted next to Öksüz in the arrival terminal. The two were confirmed to have returned from the United States that day after a two-day visit.
The two were suspected of visiting the U.S.-based leader of the Gülenist movement, Fethullah Gülen, before carrying out their alleged actions on the July 15.
Asked about the footage apparently showing him next to Öksüz, Batmaz said it was a “coincidence.”
While Batmaz and Biniş are currently under arrest, the whereabouts of Öksüz, who was released after detention on July 16 by a court, is unknown.
In a September story, Hürriyet correspondent Deniz Zeyrek wrote that documents showed that Öksüz was among three civilians captured along with 26 soldiers near the base trying to flee.
The fact that Öksüz was a civilian was only discovered by prosecutors during his testimony. His release came after he appeared before the judge, who released him on probation after finding that no other evidence had been collected against him.
Öksüz disappeared after being released and is still on the run.