I wish I had died, says Turkish coup suspect general
AA photoFormer four-star general Akın Öztürk has denied any responsibility for events at the Akıncı Air Base, considered the control center of the July 15, 2016 coup attempt, saying the allegations are “unacceptable for his honor.”
“I wish I had died in one of the operations [during the coup attempt] so I would not face such allegations,” Öztürk told the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court on Aug. 4, the fourth day of the trial into events at the base.
“To be tried on accusations of being a traitor and of being related to the treacherous coup attempt is the biggest punishment that can be given to me,” he said, noting that he has been a pilot for 46 years.
A former General of the Air Forces, Öztürk is also a primary suspect in the case trying over 200 soldiers on events at Turkey’s General Staff Headquarters on the night of the coup attempt.
Along with generals Mehmet Terzi and Mehmet Partigöç and 34 others, Öztürk appeared in the dock in May for leading the “Peace in the Nation Council,” the leading body of the failed coup.
On the fourth day of the trial on events at the Akıncı base in which 486 suspects are being tried, Öztürk denied any responsibility for commanding the coup plot and of having any involvement with the Fetullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).
“Unlike what was reported in the media, I did not try to escape. I was not in contact with Mehmet Partigöç. I did not participate in the Peace in the Nation Council. I did not have sympathy for religious organizations,” he said.
Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and other force commanders were taken to the Akıncı Air Base on the night of the coup and were held captive there, where warplanes took off to bomb the Turkish Parliament and other key state institutions.
Öztürk claimed that he only went to the base after he was informed that the General Staff Headquarters had been attacked and after he was asked to go there.
“Chief of the Air Staff Abidun Ünal called me and said ‘it has been said that there were jets over Ankara. Will you inform me on the subject?’ Then I called the base and Kubilay Selçuk told me that an operation was ongoing and I was expected. Following that, I went to the base. Kubilay Selçuk, Ömer Faruk Harmancık and Mehmet Dişli were there,” he said.
He said Akar had told him to “try to persuade the putschists not to pursue their attack.”
“I went to Akar and asked what was happening. Pointing at the people in the room he told me ‘they attempted this, talk to them, persuade them, they are attempting a coup,’” Öztürk said.
Questioned why he was not taken captive and why he was present at the 143rd Fleet, where the jets took off from, Öztürk said he had gone there on an instruction from Akar and he “did not want to act aggressively because he did not know who is who.”
“With the instruction I received from Gen. Akar, I told them that this is wrong. When I saw that they were determined, I went back to the general,” he said.
“I was actually even wearing somebody else’s shirt and pants,” he added, stating that he was in civilian clothes.
‘Involvement of foreign powers’
Condemning the coup attempt, Öztürk said he thought the coup attempt was carried out “by FETÖ members within the Turkish Air Forces with external support.”
Upon a question from the court board on this “external support” claim, Öztürk did not specify.
“It could be any of the forces jealous of the Turkish Republic standing on her feet by herself in the region. It could be Germany, Britain, the U.S. or Russia,” he said.