ANKARA: Just a week ago they would have been seen as gleaming representatives of their country and one of its most respected institutions.
But now top figures within the military detained over Turkey’s coup plot are regarded as heinous traitors, paraded before state media looking battered and humiliated.
So far 125 generals and admirals have been detained, 109 of whom have already been placed under arrest by the courts.
Images published by the state-run Anadolu news agency showed many of them face to the wall, their hands tied with plastic handcuffs.
While several figures of national renown have been detained, government officials said it is still unclear who was the number-one leader of the coup on the ground, which the authorities blame on US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.
“We do not know yet. It is not yet clear,” Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said at a briefing with foreign reporters this week.
“There are so many names in the file, so many mid- and-high level personnel,” he said.
Responding to the images of the suspects looking in a bad physical condition, he said their injuries had been caused by fighting during Friday’s coup bid and not abuse in interrogation. “This is the result of combat,” said Kurtulmus.
Here are some of the top people under suspicion.
Ex-Air Force chief, General Akin Ozturk
Ozturk, 64, was from 2013-2015 the chief of the Turkish air force after a glittering military career.
He is probably the most prominent figure to have been detained over the coup. State media have twice published images of him, once looking haggard with a bandaged ear and then appearing even more gaunt with a blackened eye.
Some pro-government media have painted Ozturk as the mastermind of the coup inside Turkey.
But in his statement to prosecutors, Ozturk denied being either ringleader of the coup or taking part at all.
“Who planned it and directed it, I do not know,” he said. “I did not participate in the coup. Others are witness to this.” He said the coup could have been the work of “foreign missions who want to see a weak Turkey”. -
Aide to chief of staff Levent Turkkan
Lieutenant Colonel Levent Turkkan was the aide of Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar and regularly photographed at his side. Akar was held for hours by the plotters and has been hailed as a hero by the authorities.
Pictures in Turkish media have shown Turkkan stripped to the waist, with a bandage round his chest and both his hands also in bandages.
The state-run Anadolu agency published what it says is a confession by Turkkan, where he admitted to being a member of Gulen’s group.
“I have obeyed the orders and instructions of the big brothers exactly,” he is quoted as saying.
He said he had placed a bug in the office of Akar’s predecessor as chief of staff Necdet Ozel while he was in the job. “I put a recording device in the room in the morning and took it back in the evening hours.”
Erdogan’s aide-de-camp, Ali Yazici
Yazici had worked since 2015 as Erdogan’s aide-de-camp, his top military adviser, and pictured right by his side in all major events.
In his statement to prosecutors, he admitted making poor decisions on Friday over Erdogan’s security but denied having any kind of link to Gulen’s group.
“For me Fethullah Gulen is the leader of a terrorist organisation,” he is quoted as saying.
General Mehmet Disli
General Mehmet Disli is suspected of conducting the operation to capture Akar during the stand-off.
Hugely embarrassingly for the authorities, he is the brother of Saban Disli, deputy secretary general of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Saban Disli distanced himself from his brother and the coup, saying on Twitter: “We are under the command of the crescent flag and our leader is Recep Tayyip Erdogan. A brother who is a general with the name of Disli is not going to change this.” Mehmet Disli however has denied any links to Gulen and the coup. “I am a victim ... I have been threatened with death and detained,” he said in his testimony.—AFP
Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2016