Army chief’s former advisor: Military ignored tip-offs about possible coup attempts twice

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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

Col. Orhan Yıkılkan, a former chief advisor to Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, has said the General Staff received two tip-offs about possible coup attempts in 2015 and 2016 but that both were ignored.

Yıkılkan  is among 221 suspects accused of being ringleaders of the failed coup attempt on July 15,2016 whose trial began at an Ankara court on May 22.

There are over two dozen former Turkish generals among the 221 on trial.

During Friday’s hearing at the Ankara 17th High Criminal Court, Yıkılkan delivered his defense in which he denied taking part in the coup attempt and said he personally informed Gen. Akar of two credible tip-offs about possible coup attempts in November 2015 and February 2016.

“A report came in November 2015. It was a report warning that a coup attempt similar to the one on July 15 could take place. [Gen.] Yaşar Güler had work done on it to find out whether there was such a likelihood or not. It was eventually decided that no such thing [a coup attempt] was possible,” said Yıkılkan.

As for the second tip-off that came in 2016, Yıkılkan said the then-undersecretary of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) submitted a report to then-Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu suggesting that four air force commanders and one land commander were making preparations for a coup attempt. He said the tip-off came from a colonel from the special forces and that he personally conveyed this to Akar but that the second tip-off was also ignored.

The July 15 coup attempt claimed the lives of more than 240 people while it injured a thousand of others when a group of officers in the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) attempted to overthrow the Turkish government.

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