Parliament's committee on the July 15 coup attempt concludes its tenure after hearing from those affected by the coup and FETÖ, which was behind the attempt. The committee's head says their task was accomplished but questions remain, including the disappearance of a key coup figure
The Committee of Inquiry into FETÖ's coup attempt ended its tenure Wednesday, with the committee's chairman Reşat Petek saying they have accomplished their task, although there are questions that went unanswered, and that they hoped to detail them in an upcoming report on their work. One critical question is how Adil Öksüz, a senior Gülenist involved in the coup attempt, managed to disappear even though he had been detained during the failed putsch.
The parliamentary committee was set up jointly by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and opposition parties in the wake of the July 15 coup attempt, blamed on a small junta linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). Some 248 people were killed and hundreds of others were wounded when pro-coup troops shot at anyone opposing the coup attempt.
Reşat Petek, a lawmaker from the AK Party, said the July 15 incidents were unique as it was the first time that citizens themselves quelled the situation. Starting in 1960, Turkey has seen multiple coups by an all-too-powerful military, but almost all of them were concluded without any public intervention, often by the handover of power to civilians by the military. On July 15, unarmed citizens heeding calls by political leaders took to the streets to confront heavily-armed troops in tanks. Hours later, coup troops had to surrender to the police and anti-coup civilians due to strong public resistance.
Petek said they heard 51 people at the committee meetings and a total of 141 people provided information to the committee both at Parliament and during their working visits. Those testifying included former army chiefs, police chiefs and victims of FETÖ, which is involved in a string of crimes from sham trials to forgery and illegal wiretapping. The chairman said they also investigated letters and petitions sent to the committee, and in a period of three months sent 86 letters to state agencies for more information on the coup attempt and FETÖ, and had received 67 replies; they are still awaiting the others. The National Intelligence Organization (MİT) has been secretive regarding the coup attempt, while army chief Hulusi Akar, who was held hostage by coup plotters in the capital Ankara on July 15, did not testify to the committee. Petek said they were awaiting a response from MİT and Akar, as well as from several people they invited to testify, from former presidents to former prime ministers. Written replies will be included in a report to be prepared by the committee.
"We gathered information that will shed light on many issues. We would like to compile a historical record of the wrongdoings of FETÖ and we don't want FETÖ members to get away with their crimes," Petek said. He stated that he cannot answer questions on whether the committee has a concrete finding or conclusion regarding the coup attempt and only the report they will compile about their work can clarify it. "We have both concrete results and facts we could not clarify about the coup attempt, from the real members of the Peace At Home Council (the self-styled group of coup plotters) to the post-coup Cabinet the putschists planned. We had partial access to information and there are things we couldn't access," he said. Petek added that access to information was mostly restricted due to ongoing criminal investigations in which prosecutors and judges can block revealing information due to "the confidential nature" of the investigations.
One point that remains unclear in the post-coup investigations relates to Adil Öksüz, an alleged mastermind of the putsch attempt. Öksüz, a theology lecturer by profession, is accused of being one of the right-hand men of terror cult leader Fetullah Gülen and plotting the coup with Gülenist military officers before green-lighting it upon the approval of the U.S.-based Gülen. Öksüz remains at large after he was controversially released hours after his detention at a military base in Ankara he emerged from during the coup attempt. Öksüz was coordinating coup efforts when he was detained, according to prosecutors. "We asked for information from the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) - a body that oversees the judiciary - about the release of Adil Öksüz and we were informed that a confidential investigation was under way on the judges who ordered his release. So, we don't know much about Adil Öksüz, at least until the investigation concludes," Petek told reporters.
Petek also said the MİT was preparing a comprehensive report about the coup attempt after the committee asked for information and it was "on its way." The committee's report will give an insight both into the coup attempt and how FETÖ had prepared its followers since the 1960s to seize power in Turkey.
Turkey has declared a state of emergency to boost its fight against FETÖ and other terrorist groups following the coup attempt that came days before a military council meeting that was expected to expel FETÖ-linked officers from the army. Thousands with links to the terrorist group were dismissed and detained following the coup attempt, in the army, public sector, judiciary and more. Ankara pledged to continue its fight against the terror cult, which is accused of thwarting past investigations into its wrongdoings with infiltrators in the judiciary and law enforcement up until the coup attempt.