Turkey general denies planning coup

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(BBC) A former air force commander has denied being a ringleader of Friday’s attempted military coup in Turkey.

Gen Akin Ozturk and 26 senior officers were charged with treason and remanded in custody by a court on Monday, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

But in a statement to prosecutors, the general insisted: “I am not the person who planned or led the coup.”

Akin Ozturk was among 70 generals and admirals being detained, Anadolu reported (PHOTO: ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES)
Akin Ozturk was among several generals and admirals being detained, Anadolu reported (PHOTO: ANADOLU AGENCY/GETTY IMAGES)

Anadolu had earlier quoted him as telling interrogators that he had “acted with intention to stage a coup”.

The government has blamed the unrest, which left at least 232 people dead and 1,400 wounded, on supporters of the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

Mr Gulen has denied any involvement and suggested the coup attempt may have been staged itself.

“I don’t know who planned or directed it. According to my experiences, I think that the [Gulen movement] attempted this coup,” Gen Ozturk was quoted as telling prosecutors by Anadolu before appearing in court in Ankara on Monday.

“But I cannot tell who within the armed forces organised and carried it out. I have no information. I have fought against this structure.”

Anadolu said Gen Ozturk was one of 112 generals and admirals who had been detained since Friday. Fifty had been remanded in custody pending trial, it added.

The interior ministry also reportedly dismissed almost 9,000 police officers on Monday, as part of a purge of officials suspected of involvement.

That followed the arrest of 6,000 military personnel and suspension of almost 3,000 judges over the weekend.

Turkey’s Western allies have expressed concern at the crackdown and urged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to respond in a measured way.

In an interview with CNN broadcast on Monday evening, Mr Erdogan refused to rule out executing those convicted of treason, if the death penalty were to be restored.

“‘Why should I keep them and feed them in prisons, for years to come?’ – that’s what the people say,” he said.

“They want a swift end to it, because people lost relatives, lost neighbours, lost children… they’re suffering so the people are very sensitive and we have to act very sensibly and sensitively.”

After a breakfast meeting in Brussels with US Secretary of State John Kerry, European Union foreign ministers warned that Turkey’s ambitions to join the bloc would be over if the death penalty was reinstated.

“We need… to have Turkey respect democracy, human rights, and fundamental freedoms,” EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini told a news conference.

Mr Kerry urged the Turkish government to “maintain calm and stability throughout the country”, but also cautioned “against a reach that goes well beyond that and stress the importance of the democratic rule being upheld”.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu meanwhile dismissed as “unacceptable” a claim by the EU enlargement commissioner, Johannes Hahn, that the government in Ankara had drawn up arrest lists before the coup attempt.

 

 

 

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