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Slain general’s widow sentenced to 18 years

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Nazire Terzi, the widow of Brig. Gen. Semih Terzi, who was killed by noncommissioned officer Ömer Halisdemir during a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for “aiding the crime of violation of the constitution,” the state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Monday.

According to the report, Nazire Terzi said her “only crime was to be the wife of Brig. Gen. Terzi” during a hearing at the Ankara 13th High Criminal Court. The judges also decided to keep her in prison while the decision awaits approval in the higher courts.

1st Lt. Enes Yılmaz, a suspect in the failed coup, said during his defense in court in March 2017 that Brig. Gen. Terzi was invited to Ankara by Special Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Zekai Aksakallı, who ordered Halisdemir to murder Terzi.

“Semih Terzi was invited to Ankara by Zekai Aksakallı. The day before July 15, three battalions that were under the command of Terzi were deployed to other places. Could Gen. Aksakallı, who is aware when even one soldier leaves the main entrance of the barracks, not have been aware of this? Gen. Aksakallı must be heard,” Yılmaz said during a hearing at the Muğla 2nd High Criminal Court, where the team that targeted President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s hotel in Marmaris on the night of July 15 are standing trial.

Brig. Gen. Gökhan Şahin Sönmezateş, the commander of the team that targeted Erdoğan’s hotel in Marmaris, said in his defense in February 2017 that they received an order from the office of the Chief of General Staff but were intentionally deceived and kept waiting for four hours.

“The order came from Semih Terzi. He said the Turkish Armed Forces had taken over control of the country. He said the order was from the Chief of General Staff’s office. … We were sent into a trap. Who kept us waiting for four hours before taking off?” Sönmezateş said during his defense at the Muğla 2nd High Criminal Court.

In a development that raises further suspicion about the failed coup attempt on July 15, 2016 in Turkey being staged, several military officers who are standing trial on coup charges have said National Intelligence Organization (MİT) head Hakan Fidan had an unusual meeting with chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and Special Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Zekai Aksakallı at a graduation ceremony that would normally take place at the Special Forces Command (ÖKK) on July 15 but was unexpectedly changed to July 14.

“This was something which we had never before seen or witnessed. I am saying this as someone who took part in the previous [graduation] ceremony. They had dinner and spoke to each other alone for three-and-a-half hours. Akar left at 23:30. Then Zekai Pasha and the MİT undersecretary walked around the area you investigated for 30 to 40 minutes. This also attracted our attention. After seeing the guests off, Zekai Pasha left at 00:30,” Turgay Usanmaz said, adding that he was of the belief that Gen. Aksakallı had prior knowledge about the coup attempt.

According to official reports, a major informed MİT about the coup plan at 14:00 and Fidan was with Akar at military headquarters until 20:30, half an hour before the failed coup attempt was launched.

Despite both President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım having expressed their uneasiness with Fidan and Akar for failing to inform them about the coup attempt on July 15, and the fact that they had learned of the coup plot six hours earlier notwithstanding, the two retained their posts while over 150,000 people from state institutions were purged and jailed by the government after the failed coup.

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