‘Hero’ who halted 5 tanks during Turkish coup turns out to be fake

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ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JULY 16 : Nearly 50 soldiers occupying Bosphorus Bridge surrender as Istanbulites climb on tanks during failed coup attempt, on July 15, 2016. AFP

Zafer Onaran, who was covered in the media as “the hero who stopped five tanks” after a failed coup in Turkey on July 15, was actually injured in a fight, a relative has claimed.

Onaran, who sought veteran status and a pension, has been accused of cheating the state.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed over 240 people and wounded many others.

Onaran, who was being treated in a hospital for a broken jaw after the coup attempt, told the media he was injured while trying to halt the tanks. Onaran made headlines in a number of media organs as the “hero who stopped five tanks.”

After his wife filed an application for veteran’s benefits with the district governor’s office, Onaran received compensation and his hospital expenses were covered.

Onaran’s veteran’s status, however, only lasted until a relative, Beytullah Koca, who found out about it from the media, went to the police station and said: “What hero? … We fought on July 16, and I was the one who broke his jaw. He is cheating the state.”

After charges were pressed for cheating a public institution, Onaran returned the money he received from the state and submitted a petition stating that he relinquishes his rights as a veteran.

Aysel Onaran, who was involved in the case because she filed an application on behalf of her husband, denied the charges and accused the relative of defaming them. She said he asked for half the money they had received and that he slandered them when they refused.

“I was in Kızılay Square on the night of the coup. Just as I was trying to climb on a tank, it stopped abruptly and I hit my jaw. I came back home on the morning of July 16 and went to a hospital when the pain started in the afternoon. My jaw was broken, and they put me under treatment. I did not tell a journalist that I stopped five tanks. The journalist made it up without my knowledge,” said Zafer Onaran.

The court has accused district governor’s office of rendering payment without a proper investigation and said the incident could not be considered a case of fraud.

The couple was acquitted in a decision on June 15.

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