Brig. Gen. Gökhan Şahin Sönmezateş, the commander of the team that targeted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s hotel in Marmaris on the night of a July 15 failed coup, said in court on Monday that they received an order from the office of the Chief Of General Staff but were intentionally deceived and kept waiting for four hours, news website Artıgercek reported on Monday.
“The order came from Semih Terzi [commander of the special forces who was killed on the night of the attempted coup]. He said the Turkish Armed Forces had taken over control of the country. He said the order was from the Chief of General Staff’s office. I have no links to FETÖ [a derogatory term for the Gülen movement]. We were sent into a trap. Who kept us waiting for four hours before taking off?” Sönmezateş said during his defense at the Muğla 2nd High Criminal Court.
“While the whole world knew the president had gone to İstanbul, we were sent there, into a trap. … I am trying to find an answer to the question of ‘Who deceived us and kept us waiting for four hours?'”
Underlining that he had acted thinking it was a coup on the orders of the entire Turkish military, Sönmezateş also said the order was not to assassinate but to take President Erdoğan to Ankara.
Maj. Şükrü Seymen, who was commander of the team, also said he acted in accordance with the orders.
“I do not fear anything. I carried out a coup. It won’t hurt if the punishment is the death penalty. The only thing I did was implement the orders of Gen. Sönmezateş and Gen. Terzi. Our mission was to take President Erdoğan to Ankara alive.”
A 37-strong team of special forces members that attacked Erdoğan’s hotel on July 15 killed two policemen. Six aggravated life sentences were demanded for each of the 47 suspects.
The indictment was completed in only four months, considered unusually rapid given the average preparation time for indictments in Turkey. President Erdoğan also filed a criminal complaint against the suspects for allegedly trying to kill him in Marmaris.
Erdoğan called the botched coup a great gift of God as he immediately put the blame on the Gülen movement.
A report prepared by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen) revealed that although President Erdoğan and the Turkish government immediately put the blame for the July 15 failed coup on the faith-based Gülen movement, the coup attempt was staged by a range of Erdoğan’s opponents due to fears of an impending purge, according to a report by The Times newspaper on Jan. 17.
The Aldrimer.no website reported on Jan. 25 that NATO sources believe the coup was staged by the president of Turkey himself.
Speaking to vocaleurope.com, a former Turkish officer who served at NATO headquarters in Brussels but was sacked and recalled to Turkey as part of an investigation into the failed coup on July 15 claims that the putsch was clumsily executed and never intended to bring down the government, but rather served as a vehicle for President Erdoğan to eliminate opponents and the ultranationalists to take a prominent role in the military and impose their “Eurasian” agenda on the country.
Over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement since the coup attempt, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of Feb. 1, 89,775 people were being held without charge, with an additional 43,885 in pre-trial detention due to their alleged links to the movement.