The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office announced yesterday that police have detained 35 on-duty military personnel in an ongoing investigation into the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) blamed for last year's foiled coup.
The prosecutor's office said in a written statement that 35 commissioned officers from the Gendarmerie Command were apprehended during raids across 20 provinces, including the capital Ankara, on charges of being members of a terrorist group.
In the wake of the putsch attempt, tens of thousands of FETÖ suspects in the armed forces, police and judicial system have been arrested, including many in the education and business sectors.
A former member of FETÖ, who is well-informed about the terrorist group's scheme of infiltrating into the army, told authorities that FETÖ placed many followers in the gendarmerie forces by stealing the questions to the gendarmerie promotion exams. The ex-FETÖ member, who was used as a point man for FETÖ while he was the gendarmerie "imam," testified that the infiltration scheme worked for over 10 years.
"From 2000 to 2013, the proportion of group's placed members in the gendarmerie reached almost 100 percent," he said. "While 70 of the 100 questions were delivered to some members, another 75 questions were delivered to other members to avoid suspicion. Also, exam boards assisted FETÖ followers during their interviews. People who were not from FETÖ were eliminated even if they performed well."
Meanwhile, the hearings of soldiers who were involved in the coup bid are underway. Yesterday in Ankara, at a trial on the putschists' takeover of the main army headquarters, a former colonel testified.
Osman Kılıç, a secretary to Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar, was among 221 defendants in the case where he is accused of being a member of junta's "Peace At Home Council."
Kılıç denied his involvement in the coup although he was apprehended at the Akıncı military base, which was used as a command center by coup plotters, and claimed he was not a follower of FETÖ. He said he was simply on an assignment at the base, where Chief of General Staff Gen. Akar and other senior military brass who opposed to the coup were held hostage.
Like other defendants that testified before him, Kılıç blamed a dead officer, who is credited for countering coup plotters, for being a putschist when the prosecutor and the plaintiff's lawyers turned up the pressure.
Since the trial started, almost all of the defendants have denied charges and pointed out to slain putschists as the men behind the coup attempt. Despite evidence clearly showing the suspects acting with other coup plotters, most have claimed that they were victims of a conspiracy.
The executive board of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) was among those watching yesterday's hearing in Ankara, inside a tightly-guarded courtroom located in a sprawling prison complex.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the hearing, the AK Party deputy president, Hayati Yazıcı, said they were assured that the putschists would be handed down the "appropriate punishment."
Adding that his party was accepted as a plaintiff in the trial, Yazıcı said, "We saw that the defendants keep changing their testimonies in court, contradicting their statements to police after their arrest. Certainly, the trials are not solely based on testimonies and there is strong evidence against them."