Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has appealed to the Ankara 4th High Criminal Court to become an intervening party in the case on the events at the Akıncı Air Base, considered to have been the control center of the July 2016 coup attempt.
Yıldırım issued a petition to the presiding judge of the case Selfet Giray on Aug. 7, while the court was continuing the key trial’s fifth hearing with the cross examination of four-star general Akın Öztürk. Öztürk is accused of commanding the coup plot from the base, from which warplanes took off to bomb parliament and other key state offices. Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and other force commanders were also taken to the base and held captive there by pro-coup soldiers.
Öztürk claimed in his questioning that he had been informed about the coup plot from Akar and he was present there “in order to follow Akar’s orders.”
The board showed him video footage taken from the base on that night, and asked why he appeared to be acting so “calmly.”
“How can you suggest that I was not fearing for my life. It was not even clear who was a coup plotter at the time. My priority was to go to the chief of general staff, to take an order from him, and to do what was necessary,” Öztürk said in response.
“I was not drifting around with my hands in my pockets. I was very worried. That’s why all these accusations against me are wrong,” he added.
‘Akar could have called the PM’
Answering a question concerning Akar’s attitudes on the night, Öztürk said “all of his orders were followed.”
“I did not know what was happening until I went [into the room that Akar was in]. Afterwards I definitely haven’t seen any disrespectful behavior against him. All of his orders were followed. Everybody was acting how they should act in front of a general. He had the opportunity to talk over a phone,” he added.
Öztürk also claimed that Akar told Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım over the phone that Öztürk’s presence at the base “was to help Akar.”
“I heard Akar telling the prime minister and those who were at the meeting that I was trying to help him. Gen. Dişli witnessed this, ask him,” he said, referring to Mehmet Dişli, a key suspect in the coup case.
In response to a question on why Akar had not made any statements to defend him, Öztürk said “some things have changed over time. The commander of the Air Forces also said different things afterwards.”
‘Akar was an internee’
Saying there is video footage of Commander Gen. Abidin Ünal and former 2nd Chief of General Staff Yaşar Güler entering the Akıncı Air Base, but there is no footage of Akar, lawyers asked Öztürk if he thinks Akar was interned.
“To take a soldier who had a rank as high as the chief of general staff from their office is the definition of internment,” Öztürk said.
“Even to just say ‘let’s go’ to the chief of general staff and to Yaşar Güler amounts to distracting them,” he said.
‘Akar might have feared for his life’
Answering a question about why Akar “did not appear to be intervening the events,” Öztürk said “he may have been fearing for his life.”