Former air force chief denies planning Turkey coup

Akin Ozturk, a former commander of the Turkish air forces who is accused of plotting a coup attempt on July 15, 2016, poses for media on December 13, 2013. EPA
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Ankara // One of the most senior military figures accused of involvement in Turkey’s failed coup denied in court on Monday that he was the mastermind of the plot.

Former air force chief Gen Akin Ozturk appeared before the criminal court in Ankara looking tired and haggard with his ear bandaged.

The court was to decide if he and 26 other generals and admirals should be remanded in custody ahead of trial, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

They are accused of trying to overthrow the existing order and also of plotting to assassinate president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In his statement to prosecutors, Gen Akin denied that he was the ringleader of the coup, whose identity remains unclear.

“I am not the person who planned or led the coup. Who planned it and directed it I do not know,” Anadolu quoted him as saying.

Some Turkish media had earlier quoted him as confessing to have played a prime role in the coup but later replaced this information with his denial.

Turkey’s treatment of the coup suspects has alarmed its allies, with EU and US leaders urging Ankara to respect the rule of law.

Anadolu published images of Gen Ozturk and other suspects on the stairs inside of the Ankara court house, staring blankly into the camera with their hands tied behind their backs.

Turkey has blamed the coup on supporters within the military of Mr Erdogan’s arch enemy, the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.

* Agence France-Presse