Trial begins for murder of soldier who resisted July 15 coup attempt

Trial begins for murder of soldier who resisted July 15 coup attempt

Trial begins for murder of soldier who resisted July 15 coup attempt

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The trial for the killing of a Turkish anti-coup soldier, who has been idolized for his resistance during a raid on the Special Forces Command in Ankara before he was killed by coup plotting soldiers, has started. 

Ankara 14th Heavy Penal Court on Feb. 21 started the trials of 18 suspects in the case regarding the murder of non-commissioned officer Ömer Halisdemir after he shot a pro-coup general, Semih Terzi, who arrived in the commandership to capture it as part of its coup activities on July 15, 2016, which is widely believed to have been masterminded by the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ).

Acting on his commander’s orders, Halisdemir shot Terzi dead outside the special forces’ headquarters in Ankara. He was later killed by the plotters.

Hundreds of babies born after the coup have been named after Halisdemir as a tribute, while hundreds of thousands have visited his grave. Parks, schools and other public places have been named after him, while a cottage industry of souvenirs to preserve his memory was founded.

Dressed in suits, they were escorted into the courthouse by paramilitary forces in front of cameras surrounded by heavy security and a water cannon truck.

The courtroom was packed with security forces including police with shields behind the suspects as the judge confirmed the identities of those on trial.

Some 18 suspects, who are currently being accused of deliberately killing the soldier and attempting to remove the government, are facing multiple life sentences.

All 18 suspects also face up to 15 years in jail for their alleged membership to an “armed terror organization.”

Speaking during the hearing, Ali Güreli, who went to the Special Forces Command with Terzi, said that he was assigned to duty in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır when the order to go to Ankara was conveyed. Güreli also said that Fatih Şahin, who is also among the suspects, told him to take the equipment used for directing planes. 

Saying that he thought they were going to Ankara to protect the parliament, Güreli added that he saw Terzi on the plane to the capital city. 

“Clashes erupted when we arrived at the Special Forces Command. I was walking 15 or 20 meters behind Terzi. During the clashes I threw myself to the ground. I didn’t see who shot who,” he said, while he denied membership to FETÖ. 

Güreli’s lawyer Ercan Soylu, meanwhile, said the perception of the suspects as “terrorists” was inappropriate. 

“My client just followed the orders like Halisdemir. He carried out his duty within the chain of command,” Soylu told the court. 

Meanwhile, Turkey’s highest judicial regulatory body dismissed 227 judges and prosecutors on Feb. 20 over their alleged links to Fethullah Gülen. 

The Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) Deputy Chairman Mehmet Yılmaz said 3,886 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed so far since the July 2016 coup attempt.        

Yılmaz said 200 judges and prosecutors, who were previously dismissed from office, would be reinstated. He noted that there were many others who remained under investigation.