Staff Lt. Col. Hakan Karakuş, one of the suspects in an ongoing trial concerning a failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016, has said a colonel ordering planes to take off from Akıncı Airbase was acting on Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) orders, the Kronos news website reported on Wednesday.
According to the report Karakuş, who was commander of the 141st air wing at Akıncı Airbase, was accused of directing the planes used by the putschists.
“Col. Nihat, who ordered planes at Akıncı Airbase to take off, said he was acting on MİT orders. He knew the putschists. He followed instructions. He did not show any opposition,” Karakuş said.
Staff Lt. Col. Karakuş said in his defense that Col. Nihat Altıntop told him he was expecting the coup, that he had coordinated with others before, was in contact with a friend of his from MİT and followed the instructions of his friend.
“Altıntop said there would be an operation in the early morning, that everybody would be punished and that I had to act with him for my own sake,” said Karakuş, adding that he was told to stay out of the incidents and remain in the control tower.
“Nihat Altıntop was responsible for all planes and helicopters landing and taking off from the area. His official responsibility is also air traffic control. He was de facto responsible for all of this,” said Karakuş, adding that Altıntop called his friend K.G. at MİT on July 15 to update him on the events and instructed his staff in line with orders from K.G.
Retracting his previous testimony at a police station and prosecutor’s office, Karakuş claimed that all his testimony taken under torture. He said he was pressured to speak against his father-in-law, Gen. Akın Öztürk, a former Air Forces commander, and claim that he planned the coup with civilians.
Karakuş rejected claims of Öztürk’s involvement in the coup and said he could not have had anything to do with it. Öztürk, a key suspect in the coup, said in his defense that he shuttled between Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and the putschist generals upon Akar’s orders to convince them to abandon the attempted coup.
Akıncı Airbase has been embroiled in controversy as the government claimed it was the control center for the failed coup and where Chief of General Staff Gen. Akar was allegedly taken hostage by soldiers who are now standing trial as suspects.
According to the testimony of several soldiers, including the commander of Akıncı Airbase Brig. Gen. Hakan Evrim and former Air Forces Commander Gen. Öztürk, Akar was not a hostage at Akıncı Airbase as he left there of his own free will on the night of the coup.