A report prepared by the Special Forces Command regarding a coup attempt on July 15, 2016 says former Turkish Air Forces Commander and member of the Supreme Military Council Akın Öztürk, a key suspect in a trial of alleged perpetrators of the failed coup, was held hostage at Akıncı Airbase, news website Diken reported on Sunday.
According to the military report, drafted on July 21, 2016, Öztürk was rescued from Akıncı Airbase along with other hostages including Presidential Secretary-General Fahri Kasırga, then-Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler, then-Air Forces Commander Abidin Ünal, Lt. Gen. Uğur Tarçın, Lt. Gen. Metin Gürak, Brig. Gen. Ertuğrulgazi Özkürkçü, Lt. Gen. Fikret Erbilgin, Colonel Ümit Talan and other staff during a joint operation conducted by the Special Forces and police.
Öztürk testified during a hearing last week at the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court that he saw Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi 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 stop 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 in Ankara on the night of the coup attempt.
Security sources claimed Akar was ordered by his private secretary, Maj. Gen. Mehmet Dişli, to sign a coup declaration at gunpoint and read it out to the public. Upon his refusal to do so, a belt was tied around his neck and he was physically forced. The sources argue that force commanders were also held captive by their pro-coup aides and guards.
Öztürk said during the hearing that he was informed about the coup attempt only when then-Air Forces Commander Ünal called him from İstanbul.
Öztürk underlined that he shuttled between Akar and the putschist generals upon Akar’s orders to convince them to abandon the attempted coup.
After traveling four or five times between Akar and the 143rd air squadron, which the putschists were using as a base, Öztürk said he told Akar that they had been persuaded and would halt the coup attempt.
“Akar told me ‘Akın, you wait here for some more time to ensure they don’t attempt more foolishness.’ And they left the airbase with Dişli to meet with the prime minister,” he said.
Former Col. Uğur Kapan, who flew Chief of General Staff Gen. Akar and Maj. Gen. Dişli from Akıncı Airbase to Çankaya Palace during the failed coup last year, implied in court that Gen. Akar was part of the coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
“Akar said: ‘We acted early, we should have waited. We are disgraced’,” said Kapan during a hearing at the Ankara 17th High Criminal Court.
Underlining that Maj. Gen. Dişli, one of the key suspects in the coup attempt, 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 Dişli’s neck when he boarded the aircraft.
According to the Turkish government, Akıncı Airbase, northwest of Ankara, served as the headquarters for the coup plotters, and the orders to bomb Parliament and overthrow President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were sent out from there.
The Turkish government and Erdoğan accuse the faith-based Gülen movement of being behind the failed coup despite the movement and US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, whose views inspired the movement, repeatedly denying any involvement.