Turkey’s army chief’s former advisor: Military ignored tip-offs about possible coup attempts twice

Anti-coup groups are cheering after the failure of military coupe attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.

Col. Orhan Yıkılkan, a former chief advisor to Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, has said the General Staff received two tip-offs about possible coup attempts in 2015 and 2016 but that both were ignored.

Yıkılkan is among 221 suspects accused of being ringleaders of the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 whose trial began at an Ankara court on May 22. There are over two dozen former Turkish generals among the 221 on trial.

During Friday’s hearing at the Ankara 17th High Criminal Court, Yıkılkan delivered his defense in which he denied taking part in the coup attempt and said he personally informed Gen. Akar of two credible tip-offs about possible coup attempts in November 2015 and February 2016.

“A report came in November 2015. It was a report warning that a coup attempt similar to the one on July 15 could take place. [Gen.] Yaşar Güler had work done on it to find out whether there was such a likelihood or not. It was eventually decided that no such thing [a coup attempt] was possible,” said Yıkılkan.

As for the second tip-off that came in 2016, Yıkılkan said the then-undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) submitted a report to then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu suggesting that four air force commanders and one land commander were making preparations for a coup attempt. He said the tip-off came from a colonel from the special forces and that he personally conveyed this to Akar but that the second tip-off was also ignored.

CHP LEADER ASKS PARTY TO PREPARE ALTERNATE REPORT ON JULY 15 COUP

Meanwhile, Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has asked his party to draft an alternate report investigating a failed coup on July 15, 2016 since a report prepared by the government has failed to shed light on the coup attempt.

“The members of the coup commission [from the CHP] should do a very meticulous piece of work. They should uncover all the relations and points left in contradiction and darkness regarding the July 15 coup attempt. Let’s try to ensure that the public is informed on this matter, leaving no stone unturned,” Kılıçdaroğlu said during a CHP central executive meeting in Ankara on May 31.

Kılıçdaroğlu said a report prepared by a parliamentary commission concerning the coup attempt released last Friday actually aims to cover up the background of the putsch rather than bringing it to light.

The 630-page-long report was prepared in four months, 15 days. The Coup Investigation Commission has attracted widespread criticism for not hearing key figures such as Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan.

Kılıçdaroğlu also said his party’s deputies should be co-plaintiffs in the coup trials because they have also been victimized by the coup attempt as the Parliament building was bombed by the coup plotters.

On the other hand, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ commented Friday on the testimony of officers standing trial for a failed coup attempt on July 15, saying they were mocking the judges of the court. “They deny, refute as if mocking the Turkish nation and the judges of the court,” said Bozdağ at a meeting in Ankara.

“They are such betrayers, such vile, characterless and unprincipled people, that they do not even accept that the coup failed.”

Underlining that the government has dismissed all judges and prosecutors allegedly linked to the faith-based Gülen movement, which the government accuses of masterminding the coup attempt on July 15, Bozdağ said: “The Turkish judiciary is independent and neutral.”

According to the t24 news website, the government has dismissed 4,238 of Turkey’s 14,661 judges and prosecutors since July 15.

In December, the European Networks of Councils for the Judiciary (ENCJ) suspended the observer status of Turkey’s Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) and excluded it from participation in ENCJ activities for the mass suspension and dismissal of judges and prosecutors and the failure to comply with the European Standards for Councils for the Judiciary.

Bozdağ’s statement came amid debates that the officers’ testimony in court contradicts statements made by the government on the coup attempt of July 15. The coup attempt claimed the lives of more than 240 people when a group of officers in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) attempted to overthrow the Turkish government. (SCF with turkishminute.com) June 2, 2017

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