Top suspect in Turkey’s coup attempt says he and Gen. Öztürk came to Akıncı Airbase over Chief of General Staff’s orders

Chief of General Staff Gen. Akar (L) and one of the alleged coup leaders, Maj. Gen. Mehmet Dişli (R), were on the same helicopter that saved Akar from the coup plotters.

Maj. Gen. Mehmet Dişli, one of the key suspects in a trial concerning a controversial coup attempt in Turkey last year and brother of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Chairman Şaban Dişli, said on Monday that he and former Turkish Air Forces Commander and member of the Supreme Military Council Akın Öztürk, a key suspect in the coup trial, came to the base following Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar’s orders, and Öztürk stayed at the base “as part of the plan.”

Mehmet Dişli has also said that he ordered pilots flying him and Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar to land the helicopter at Çankaya Palace during the coup after receiving a phone call from the prime minister’s private secretary.

Dişli, has said that he was following the orders of Chief of General Staff Gen. Akar during events at the Akıncı Air Base, considered to be the command center of the coup. “The coup plot was underway and [Akar] heard about it from me. Maybe I was the first person who uttered those words. I did not play an intermediary role. There was nobody other than the general in the room. I was not just the secretariat to the general, I can say that I worked as a one-man staff,” Dişli told the Ankara 4th Criminal Court on Monday.

Mehmet Dişli is accused of holding Akar at gunpoint, playing an intermediary role between coup plotters and Akar in a bid to persuade the chief of general staff to sign the coup declaration and to read it out to the public. As he escorted Akar to the Akıncı Air Base from General Staff Headquarters and then to the Çankaya Palace on the night of the coup attempt, Dişli claimed that he was “in the unity of action with Akar, transferring the orders of the general.”

The court head, Judge Selfet Giray, asked Dişli about a statement claiming that Akar told Dişli to “calm down” as “all necessary measures have been taken.”

“I told the general that the planes had taken off and five brigades were approaching. I believe the general meant that they had blocked the air space and had taken precautions. I did not know about any of this so I said ‘what precautions have you taken? The plot is underway,” Dişli told Giray.

Denying accusations that Akar was ordered by him to sign a coup declaration at gunpoint and read it out to the public, Dişli claimed he was with Gen. Akar from the beginning of the coup until to the end and that Gen. Akar might have misunderstood him under the influence of incidents taking place.

Upon being asked by lawyer for lieutenant trainees and first lieutenants Fatma Çiftlik whether lieutenants might have planned the coup attempt, Dişli said: “This is an question of interpretation, but military service requires absolute obedience. The superior orders and the subordinate obeys; he does not question. People of that rank have no alternative but to follow orders.”

The lawyer for Akın Öztürk asked Dişli if Akar talked to former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu or any other politician when he was at Akıncı Airbase and if he said to pilot Former Col. Uğur Kapan, who flew Dişli and Akar to Çankaya Palace during the coup, “We acted early, we should have waited.”

Dişli said he did not witness Akar speaking to any politician and did not hear the conversation between Akar and Kapan.

Kapan implied in court that Gen. Akar was part of the coup attempt. “Akar said: ‘We acted early, we should have waited. We are disgraced’,” said Kapan during a hearing at the Ankara 17th High Criminal Court, where 155 suspects including three civilians were in attendance in relation to what happened at the Army Aviation Command during the coup attempt.

Underlining that Maj. Gen. Dişli got in the helicopter with the permission of Gen. Akar, Kapan also said there were no scratches or signs of alleged torture caused by the putschists on Akar’s neck when he boarded the aircraft.

Saying that he was exposed to heavy torture during his detention at police headquarters, Kapan also said his previous testimony was taken under torture by the police and prosecutors. Accordingly he recanted his testimony that he saw Adil Öksüz, one of the prime civilian suspects in the coup attempt, at Akıncı Airbase.

A total of 486 people accused of taking part in the coup attempt are standing trial. The suspects, who were thought to have received orders from Akıncı Airbase, were allegedly plotting to assassinate Erdoğan on the night of the coup attempt.

According to the Turkish government, Akıncı Airbase, northwest of Ankara, served as the headquarters for plotters, and the orders to bomb Parliament and overthrow Erdoğan were sent out from there. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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