Trial of 221 suspects including generals accused of coup plotting begins in Ankara

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People hold banners as Turkish Gendarmerie escort defendants Akin Ozturk (3L) and others involved in last July's attempted coup in Turkey as they leave the prison where they are being held, ahead of their trial in Ankara, on May 22, 2017. The trial opened on May 22, 2017 of more than 220 suspects, including over two dozen former Turkish generals, accused of being among the ringleaders of the attempted coup last year aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

A total of 221 suspects, including over two dozen former Turkish generals, accused of being among the ringleaders of an attempted coup on July 15, 2016 aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, appeared in court in the first hearing of their trial in Ankara on Monday.

Among the suspects are retired Gen. Akın Öztürk, a former member of the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ), Brig. Gen. Mehmet Partigöç and Gen. Mehmet Dişli.

The trial is being held at the Ankara 17th High Criminal Court.

During Monday’s hearing, when the judge asked Gen. Öztürk, who is accused of being the military leader of the attempted coup, his address, Öztürk said: “I don’t know my address. I am in jail.”

Saliha Arıkan, mother of Mucip Arıkan, one of the victims of the July 15 coup attempt, who was in the courtroom on Monday, screamed: “Kill the murderers of my son. Give my son back to me,” while the suspects were being asked questions about their identity.

The presiding judge, Oğuz Dik, ordered Arıkan’s removal for disrupting the proceedings.

More than 240 people were killed, while a thousand others were injured in the coup attempt.

President Erdoğan is named as a co-plaintiff in the trial, while chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, who was taken hostage by the coup plotters, is cited as a victim.

Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

According to a statement from Turkish Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ on May 6, 149,833 people have been investigated and 48,636 have been jailed as part of an investigation targeting the Gülen movement since the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey.

On Sunday President Erdoğan called for support for operations against the Gülen movement.

“I call on all to give support. We will provide a more decisive struggle,” he said.

There are currently 221,607 inmates in prisons. Prison capacity is 203,000, making them 9 percent over capacity,” said Justice Ministry Deputy Undersecretary Basri Bağcı informed Parliament, saying that some inmates have to sleep in shifts.

As many questions still persist as to what happened before and after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, Major O.K. said in his testimony that he personally went and informed the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) at 14:30, about seven hours before the coup attempt started.

It was also revealed in February that Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and MİT Undersecretary Hakan Fidan had a six-hour meeting in Ankara a day before the failed coup.

“It was a coup attempt designed to fail,” said the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu said last month.

Contrary to accusations made by President Erdoğan and the Turkish government, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the UK Parliament concluded in March that Gülen and the movement he inspired as a whole were not behind the failed coup in Turkey.

The UK Parliament statement came a week after Germany rejected Erdoğan and the Turkish government’s accusations against the Gülen movement about July 15.

The head of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), Bruno Kahl, said Turkey could not convince them that US-based Turkish-Islamic scholar Gülen was behind the failed coup in July.

Similarly, Devin Nunes, chairman of United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said he has not seen any evidence showing Gülen’s involvement in the putsch in Turkey.

In addition, a report prepared by the EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (IntCen) revealed that the coup attempt was staged by a range of Erdoğan’s opponents due to fears of an impending purge.

 

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