Only Öksüz out of five Turkish civil coup figures fled after failed attempt: Indictment

Only Öksüz out of five Turkish civil coup figures fled after failed attempt: Indictment

Mesut Hasan Benli – ANKARA
Only Öksüz out of five Turkish civil coup figures fled after failed attempt: Indictment The footage of five civilian key suspects of the July 15, 2016, failed coup attempt has emerged, showing main figures in front of a gendarmerie post early on July 16, according to an indictment regarding the release of one of them.

Adil Öksüz, Hakan Çiçek, Nurettin Oruç, Kemal Batmaz and Harun Biniş, who are believed to be followers of the U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, together in front of the Kazan gendarmerie post in the newly-emerged footage. 

All five “civilian imams” are believed to be among the organizers of the attempted takeover and were in the Akıncı Air Base, which was used by coup-attempting soldiers as a headquarters on July 15 in the capital Ankara. 

“Imam,” which traditionally refers to a religious public worker, is a term used by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), widely believed to have masterminded the thwarted coup, to mark local leadership.

Only Öksüz is free among the five key figures and his whereabouts are unknown.

Öksüz, known as the Gülen movement’s “imam of the Air Force,” was detained near the Akıncı Air Base on the morning of July 16, only to be released by Judge Çetin Sönmez on July 18, after which he went on the run. 

According to the indictment including 28 public officers that was prepared by Ankara Public Prosecutor Ramazan Dinç regarding Öksüz’s release, some civilians and soldiers wanted to escape from the air base after they understood that their attempt had failed. 

A special team was formed by Kazan Gendarmerie Command to apprehend the coup suspects on the run and caught Oruç and Çiçek some 50 meters apart from each other. 

While Oruç told the gendarmerie officers that he was in the area for filming, Çiçek said he owned the Ankara Anafartalar College. Both of them were then locked inside a gendarmerie vehicle before being searched. 

The authorities then noticed Öksüz some 600 meters away from them and pulled out their weapons to stop him. 

Öksüz, who was nearly a kilometer away from the air base, was carrying a black suitcase and a handbag when he was apprehended, according to the indictment. 

“I’m a civilian and I’m here to examine fields,” Öksüz said when asked whether he was a civilian or a soldier.

After he was searched, Öksüz was also put in the vehicle and three suspects were brought to the gendarmerie post. 

In the footage, Öksüz, Çiçek and Oruç are seen being escorted out of a gendarmerie vehicle at 12:12 p.m. The black bag carried by Öksüz, who was wearing a blue shirt, was also seen in the footage, according to the records involved in the indictment.

At 12:32 p.m., several suspects, including Biniş and Batmaz, are seen in the gendarmerie post’s garden. Biniş was wearing a black t-shirt and carrying a backpack.

In the preceding minutes of the recording, Biniş and Batmaz are seen handcuffed to each other at 12:42 p.m.

Batmaz rose to the rank of general manager after working for three years in Kaynak Kağıt A.Ş. before leaving the company in March 2015 and claimed to be a real estate agent after that. The prosecutor’s office, however, determined that he didn’t carry out any purchases and sale activities until July 15.

Born in 1971 in the Central Anatolian province of Konya, Biniş was a suspect in a case into wiretapping high-level state officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in the period he was working at Turkey’s Telecommunications Directorate (TİB). Upon the incident, he was dismissed and started working in an informatics company. There are no other employment records of him after he left that company in 2015 until the coup attempt. 

Another civilian suspect, Oruç, said he was working for a movie production company called “Soyut/Absdrack Medya” when he was caught. He also claimed that he was in the area to carry out a pre-interview and sign a contract regarding a documentary on raising animals in a village close to the Akıncı Air Base. 

The owner of Anafartalar College, Çiçek, said he was invited to the air base by Colonel Ahmet Özçetin at around 8:30 p.m. on July 15. 

“Özçetin, who is one of the parents of our students, invited me to the Akıncı Air Base for a social event. Mobility started a couple of minutes after I arrived there,” Çiçek said in his testimony. 

The college, meanwhile, was closed over its links to FETÖ after the thwarted coup.