Police officer accused of torturing former air force commander gets promoted

Former Air Force Commander Gen. Akın Öztürk was severely tortured.

Elif Uzun Sümercan, a previous deputy chief of the Ankara Police Department’s counterterrorism unit who was accused of torturing former commander of the Turkish Air Forces Gen. Akın Öztürk, has been rewarded by an appointment as a department head at Turkey’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, a report by the US-based Advocates of Silenced Turkey (AST) revealed.

According to the report Sümercan’s name appears in official communications regarding the suspects. Her name was first revealed when one of her colleagues said, “That’s enough, Elif,” after she had tortured Gen. Öztürk for hours. Öztürk was convicted on 141 counts and sentenced to life imprisonment on accusations of leading the abortive putsch.

Turkey experienced a controversial military coup attempt on the night of July 15, 2016 which, according to many, was a false flag aimed at entrenching the authoritarian rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan by rooting out dissidents and eliminating powerful actors such as the military in his desire for absolute power.

According to the Turkish government, Akıncı Airbase was the command center for the failed coup, and Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar was held there after allegedly being taken hostage by coup plotters. Everyone at the airbase that night, including Öztürk, was accused of taking part in the coup.

Gen Akar himself claimed he was held hostage at an airbase outside Ankara by the coup plotters. Yet, the CCTV footage of the night showed Akar leaving the headquarters and taking a helicopter without any sign of coercion. In one scene, Akar was seen asking one of his would-be abductors to bring his cap and the soldier rushing to follow his orders.

Öztürk testified during a hearing at the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court that he saw then-Chief of General Staff Gen. Akar at Akıncı Airbase and that he never personally ordered the putschist soldiers to stop the coup attempt, while he himself shuttled between the general and the putschists, asking them to halt the attempt.

Öztürk also said, contrary to the government narrative, Akar was treated with respect when he was held captive by putschist officers at Akıncı Airbase on the night of the coup attempt.

According to AST’s report, Sümercan’s husband, Murat Sümercan, also a police officer, is a member of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s security detail. He was among those wanted by US authorities for attacking protestors outside of the Turkish ambassador’s residence in May 2017.

Demonstrators protesting the policies of President Erdoğan, who was visiting Washington for a White House meeting with Donald Trump, were countered by agitated supporters of the Turkish head of state and subsequently attacked by the Turkish president’s bodyguards, footage of the incident showed. Another video clip showed Erdoğan apparently giving the order for his security detail to attack the protesters and watching it unfold outside the ambassador’s residence on Sheridan Circle.

US federal prosecutors later decided to dismiss charges against 11 of 15 members of Erdoğan’s security detail.

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