‘Gen. Akar said acted early, disgraced,’ pilot says

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Chief of General Staff Gen. Akar (L) and one of the alleged coup leaders, Maj. Gen. Mehmet Dişli (R), were on the same helicopter that saved Akar from the coup plotters.

Former Col. Uğur Kapan, who flew Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and Maj. Gen. Mehmet Dişli from Akıncı Air Base to Çankaya Palace during the failed coup last year, implied in court that Gen. Akar was part of the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, Turkish media reported.

“Akar said: ‘We acted early, we should have waited. We are disgraced’,” said Kapan during a hearing at the Ankara 17th High Criminal Court, where 155 suspects including three civilians were in attendance in relation to what happened at the Army Aviation Command during the coup attempt.

Underlining that Maj. Gen. Dişli, one of the key suspects in the coup attempt, got in the helicopter with the permission of Gen. Akar, Kapan also said there were no scratches or signs of alleged torture caused by the putschists on Akar’s neck when he boarded the aircraft.

Saying that he was exposed to heavy torture during his detention at police headquarters, Kapan also said his previous testimony was taken under torture by the police and prosecutors. Accordingly he recanted his testimony that he saw Adil Öksüz, one of the prime civilian suspects in the coup attempt, at Akıncı Air Base.

Many military officers recanted their testimony, saying it was given under torture and asserting that they had carried out orders coming from military headquarters.

Turkey survived a military coup attempt on July 15 that killed 249 people and wounded more than a thousand others. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip 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.

Turkey’s Justice Ministry announced on July 13 that 50,510 people have been arrested and 169,013 have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

In March, Defense Minister Işık said the ruling AKP government had dismissed a total of 22,920 military personnel (6,511 officers and 16,409 cadets) after the coup attempt on July 15 although the Turkish military stated on July 27 that only 8,651 military members including cadets and conscripts took part in the failed coup.

“If it was a coup perpetrated by the Gülen movement, and 22,920 military personnel were dismissed for their connections to the movement as Erdoğan and the government assert, why did only 8,651 military members participate in the coup?” is a question being asked by critics.

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