Amid debates over new revelations about what happened during a July 15 coup attempt, 1st Lt. Enes Yılmaz, a suspect in the failed coup, said during his defense in court that Brig. Gen. Semih Terzi, who was killed by noncommissioned officer Ömer Halisdemir, was invited to Ankara by Special Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Zekai Aksakallı, CNNTürk reported on Thursday.
“Semih Terzi was invited to Ankara by Zekai Aksakallı. The day before July 15, three battalions that were under the command of Terzi were deployed to other places. Could Gen. Aksakallı, who is aware when even one soldier leaves the main entrance of the barracks, not have been aware of this? Gen. Aksakallı must be heard,” said Yılmaz during a hearing at the Muğla 2nd High Criminal Court, where the team that targeted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s hotel in Marmaris on the night of July 15 are standing trial.
Claiming that the team was there to protect Erdoğan, Yılmaz said: “We just fired to deter. Otherwise we, a team of 30 soldiers, would not have had an altercation with three police officers. When we were under detention, we were not asked questions to shed light on the incident. The only focus was on FETÖ [a derogatory term used by government circles to refer to the faith-based Gülen movement].”
While many questions about what happened on the day and night of the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey persist, it was recently revealed that Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan had a six-hour meeting in Ankara a day before the coup attempt, news website OdaTV reported on Monday.
According to previous official reports, a major informed MİT about the coup plan at 14:00 and Fidan was with Akar at military headquarters until 20:30, half an hour before the failed coup attempt was launched.
Despite both President Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım having expressed their uneasiness with Fidan and Akar for failing to inform them about a coup attempt on July 15, and the fact that they had learned of the coup plan six hours earlier notwithstanding, the two retained their posts while over 130,000 people from state institutions were purged and jailed by the government after the coup attempt.
Brig. Gen. Gökhan Şahin Sönmezateş, the commander of the team that targeted Erdoğan’s hotel in Marmaris, said in his defense last month that they received an order from the office of the Chief of General Staff but were intentionally deceived and kept waiting for four hours.
“The order came from Semih Terzi. 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. 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.
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.
In the currently ongoing post-coup purge, over 135,000 people, including thousands within the military, have been purged due to their real or alleged connection to the Gülen movement, according to a statement by the labor minister on Jan. 10. As of March 1, 93,248 people were being held without charge, with an additional 46,274 in pre-trial detention.
A total of 7,316 academics were dismissed as 4,070 judges and prosecutors were purged over alleged coup involvement or terrorist links.