Maj. Gen. Dişli says he ordered pilots to land helicopter at Çankaya Palace

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Turkish Gendarmerie escort defendant Mehmet Dişli (C) 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, Turkey on May 22, 2017. Murat Kula / Anadolu Agency

Maj. Gen. Mehmet Dişli, one of the key suspects in a trial concerning a failed coup in Turkey last year and brother of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Chairman Şaban Dişli, said on Monday that he ordered pilots flying him and Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar to land the helicopter at Çankaya Palace during the coup after receiving a phone call from the prime minister’s private secretary.

Denying accusations that Akar was ordered by him to sign a coup declaration at gunpoint and read it out to the public, Dişli claimed he was with Gen. Akar from the beginning of the coup until to the end and that Gen. Akar might have misunderstood him under the influence of incidents taking place.

Upon being asked by lawyer for lieutenant trainees and first lieutenants Fatma Çiftlik whether lieutenants might have planned the coup attempt, Dişli said: “This is an question of interpretation, but military service requires absolute obedience. The superior orders and the subordinate obeys; he does not question. People of that rank have no alternative but to follow orders.”

The lawyer for former Turkish Air Forces Commander and member of the Supreme Military Council Akın Öztürk, a key suspect in the coup trial, asked Dişli if Akar talked to former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu or any other politician when he was at Akıncı Airbase and if he said to pilot Former Col. Uğur Kapan, who flew Dişli and Akar to Çankaya Palace during the coup, “We acted early, we should have waited.”

Dişli said he did not witness Akar speaking to any politician and did not hear the conversation between Akar and Kapan.

Kapan implied in court that Gen. Akar was part of the coup attempt.

“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 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 Airbase.

A total of 486 people accused of taking part in the coup attempt are standing trial. The suspects, who were thought to have received orders from Akıncı Airbase, were allegedly plotting to assassinate Erdoğan on the night of the coup attempt.

According to the Turkish government, Akıncı Airbase, northwest of Ankara, served as the headquarters for plotters, and the orders to bomb Parliament and overthrow Erdoğan were sent out from there.

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