Newly revealed details of an indictment into the July 15 coup attempt shows a meeting between the country's intelligence and army chiefs led to members of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), who masterminded the putsch bid, to carry it out earlier than planned.
The indictment says the coup, which killed 248 people, was originally planned to start at 3 a.m. according to FETÖ members, but a general at the army headquarters told fellow coup plotters to reschedule it when he heard that FETÖ infiltrators in the army would be arrested that night. The indictment - which accuses 221 defendants, including generals in the coup attempt - confirms earlier media reports that the pro-coup troops' panic over the possible arrests helped to put their plans into disarray, and ultimately, helped to foil the coup.
Prosecutors say General İlhan Talu, one of the defendants, saw National Intelligence Directorate Hakan Fidan make an unannounced visit to Hulusi Akar, the chief of general staff, on July 15 and immediately called Col. Cemil Turhan, another pro-coup officer, to tell him that the army chief had ordered the summoning of military prosecutors to headquarters to round up FETÖ suspects.
Talu was the head of the personnel department at the office of the chief of general staff before he was dismissed from the army and arrested for links to the coup. He told the fellow coup plotters that land forces Cdr. Salih Zeki Çolak had left for the headquarters of Land Aviation Command - which oversees the operations of military helicopters - and that arrests were "imminent." It was the officers at Land Aviation Command who had been implicated in an investigation into FETÖ's infiltration of the army and FETÖ members in other military units believed they would be next in the country's efforts to weed out the terror cult's clout in the army.
The indictment says pro-coup troops had informed Adil Öksüz and other senior figures about FETÖ and received their approval for the change of plans. Öksüz, a theology lecturer by profession, remains at large after he was controversially released following his capture in a military base in Ankara during the coup attempt. He is accused of holding talks with military officers before the putsch bid and arranging the coup efforts personally approved by Fetullah Gülen, the U.S.-based leader of FETÖ.
İlhan Talu is also accused of "leading the way" for a pro-coup team of Special Forces - an elite branch of the military - as they entered the army headquarters to apprehend anti-coup generals. After guiding them to the command floor, Talu held meetings with fellow pro-coup officers on the next steps of the coup. Talu rejected the accusations after his detention and claimed he locked himself in his office at the headquarters and never stepped out during the coup attempt.
Prosecutors have concluded the main investigation into the coup attempt last week and sent the indictment to a court scheduled to start trying 221 defendants in the coming months.
Fetullah Gülen is the prime suspect in the main indictment, while Akın Öztürk, former commander of the Turkish Air Force and a member of the powerful Supreme Military Council, is accused of heading the Peace at Home Council of the putschists. The Ankara Chief Prosecutor's Office is asking for multiple life sentences for Gülen and Öztürk.
Gülen remains in the United States, where he settled in 1999. Thirty-seven members of the coup council and Gülen face a record 2,988 possible life sentences for the coup attempt that killed at least 248 people.
Fifteen suspects in the indictment remain at large, while Gen. Semih Terzi, a member of the council, was killed as he tried to seize a military base in Ankara during the coup attempt. Of the 221 suspects, 199 remain in detention, while eight were released pending trial.