Alleged prime coup suspect in Turkey requests help of army chief in proving innocence

Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar (L) then-Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler (C), Retired Gen. Akın Öztürk, a former commander of the air forces.

Retired Gen. Akın Öztürk, a former commander of the air forces and one of the alleged leaders of a failed coup attempt on July 15 of last year, had sent letters to Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and then-Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler to seek their help in proving his innocence after his detention on July 18, 2016, the Hürriyet daily reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, Öztürk asked for help from Akar and Güler in proving that he was not with the putschists on the night of July 15 and said “Please do what is necessary at the earliest” in his letter.

The letters were delivered to a prosecutor’s office in Ankara by Güler as “constituting evidence of a crime.”

“Honorable commander, I have told prosecutor Serdar Coşkun about the incidents we experienced together on July 15 after two days of detention. Naturally, I cited you, Güler, the chief of the air forces and the other generals we rescued as witnesses. It carries vital importance for your testimonies to be included in the indictment prepared by the prosecutor. I sincerely believe that you will do what’s necessary on this issue,” Öztürk wrote in the letter addressed to Akar.

In the letter to Güler, Öztürk wrote: “You being a witness is very significant during preparation of the indictment by the prosecutor. That’s why I think it’s beneficial for you to intervene as soon as possible. I have no information on the events that unfolded. Some people put us in some places [a trap].”

Öztürk was detained along with many other military officers on July 18, 2016, immediately after the failed military coup attempt that killed 249 people – including civilians – in Turkey. Öztürk was arrested on July 19, 2016 on suspicion of plotting the coup.

DEFENSE MINISTER: NEW EXPULSIONS ON WAY AT TSK

Meanwhile, Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Işık has announced that there will be a new expulsion of officers in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and that an upcoming meeting of the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) will be the opportunity to carry this out.

Speaking to TRT Haber on Tuesday, Işık said: “We will never show any tolerance for the individuals we have found out to have links [with terror organizations]. YAŞ is an opportunity for this, both for an extension of duty and for retirement as well.”

Thousands of military officers have been removed from the TSK in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

Most of the officers were expelled on the grounds that they had links to the faith-based Gülen movement, which is accused by the Turkish government of masterminding the failed coup attempt. The movement strongly denies any involvement in the putsch.

The next YAŞ meeting, where expulsions and promotions as well as the retirement of military officers are decided, will be held in August.

A controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkish government has dismissed about 150,000 public employees by executive decrees under the rule of emergency declared following the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016. According to a report by the state-run Anadolu news agency on May 28, 154,694 individuals have been detained and 50,136 have been jailed due to alleged Gülen links since the failed coup attempt. (SCF with turkishminute.com) July 5, 2017

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