Turkey’s state-run news agency says courts have ordered 85 generals and admirals jailed pending trial over their roles in a botched coup attempt. Dozens of others were still being questioned as Ankara Tuesday stepped up a relentless crackdown despite international concern.
Anadolu Agency said Tuesday that those formally arrested include former air force commander General Akin Ozturk, alleged to be the ringleader of the July 15 uprising, and General Adem Hududi, commander of Turkey’s 2nd Army, which is in charge of countering possible threats to Turkey from Syria, Iran and Iraq.
Erdogan has denounced the coup, which left more than 300 dead on all sides, as a treacherous bid to oust him from power devised from the Pennsylvania compound of his arch-enemy, the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.
But with the authorities detaining over 7,500 people so far in a massive legal crackdown, Turkey’s EU and Nato allies have urged Ankara to keep the rule of law in place.
Erdogan’s suggestion that the death penalty in Turkey could be reinstated has sent shudders through Europe and sparked warnings such a move would be the nail in the coffin of its already embattled EU bid.
An Ankara court late Monday placed under arrest 26 former generals suspected of planning the coup, including former Turkish air force chief General Akin Ozturk, whom some Turkish media have painted as the mastermind of the plot.
The generals have now been jailed ahead of their trials, a date for which has not been sent.
They have been charged with crimes including seeking to overturn the constitutional order, leading an armed group and seeking to assassinate the president.
In his statement to prosecutors, Ozturk denied he was the coup ringleader.
“I am not the person who planned or led the coup. Who planned it and directed it, I do not know,” state-run news agency Anadolu quoted him as saying.
Betrayal of Turkish nation:
Turkey’s treatment of the coup suspects has alarmed its allies especially after the suspects were paraded before the media and shown being subjected to rough treatment.
Anadolu published images of Ozturk and other suspects on the stairs inside the Ankara court house, staring blankly into the camera with their hands tied behind their backs.
Ozturk has looked tired and haggard in images published by state media, with one of his ears heavily bandaged.
The interior ministry said almost 9,000 people, including nearly 8,000 police but also municipal governors and other officials, had also been dismissed in a widening purge.
Turkey has blamed Friday’s coup bid on supporters within the military of Gulen, who Ankara accused of running a group it dubs the “Fetullahci Terror Organisation”.
Ankara has piled the pressure on Washington to extradite Gulen to face trial at home but US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday he wanted to see evidence and not allegations.
Gulen said in an interview with several media outlets including AFP at his compound in Pennsylvania that he has “no concerns personally” about the extradition request.
The United States “is a country of law,” added the cleric.
“The rule of law reigns supreme here. I don’t believe this government will pay attention to anything that is not legally sound.” In addition to denying his own involvement, Gulen “condemned” the coup, saying: “I have always been against military interventions in domestic politics.” He called the putsch attempt “treason, a betrayal of the Turkish nation.”