Former Turkish Air Force commander denies role in coup

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Ankara, July 19 (IANS) 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, BBC cited the state-run Anadolu news agency as saying.

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

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

Officials have blamed the unrest, which killed over 200 people and wounded over a thousand people, on the US-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen and the “parallel structure” they say he has formed to topple the government.

“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.

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

In an interview with the BBC on Monday evening, Gulen called the attempted takeover “treason” and urged the government to produce evidence of his alleged involvement, saying Turkey was no longer really a democracy.

Earlier, the interior ministry dismissed almost 9,000 police officers as part of a purge of officials suspected of involvement in the coup attempt.

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



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