Bewildering judges and those watching a trial on last year's coup attempt, a former admiral who was captured on security camera footage firing on two civilians denied the accusation.
Sinan Sürer was in the office of the chief of General Staff when putchist soldiers linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) took it over as part of the nationwide coup attempt that killed 250 people on July 15, 2016. He is accused of killing two civilians - both unarmed - who entered the building to convince them to stop the attempt. Security camera footage clearly shows the admiral between two soldiers holding rifles firing on the victims.
In his testimony on Friday's hearing in the trial in Ankara, Sürer first said he was not holding a gun but "a smartphone" in his hand when images from the footage were shown. He then admitted that it was his pistol, but denied he pulled the trigger. "You will see I did not fire if you closely examine it, I was only holding the pistol as a reflex," he said.
Sürer also denied sending messages to military attaches abroad, ordering them to obey the orders of putschists. He claimed he was held at gunpoint at the office by putchist soldiers who forced him to send the message. In the security camera footage, Sürer is seen voluntarily joining the troops as they confront the civilians storming the place.
The former admiral was not on duty at General Staff building, but went anyway on July 15. He claimed he was summoned to the office over a terror alert.
Sürer is also accused of using ByLock, an encrypted messaging app used by FETÖ members, and attending planning meetings for the coup with other generals in an Ankara villa. Adil Öksüz, a fugitive theology lecturer believed to be a high-ranking FETÖ figure, is accused of organizing the meetings in the villa and receiving approval of U.S.-based FETÖ leader Fethullah Gülen for the coup attempt.
The admiral, arrested after the coup attempt and dismissed from the army, is among 221 defendants who are testifying in the main coup trial held at a tightly guarded courthouse in Ankara's Sincan district since the beginning of June. Sürer and others, Gülen, face life sentences for their role in the coup attempt that was quelled thanks to an unprecedented public resistance to putschists. Defendants include 38 members of the Peace at Home Council of the military junta loyal to Gülen. All defendants have denied the accusations despite abundant evidence, including security camera footage showing their role in capturing the strategic locations. The case focuses on the takeover of the General Staff building. Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and other top military brass who opposed the coup attempt were taken hostage and were taken to a military base commanded by putschists in Ankara. They were later freed when putschists realized that their bid was failed as anti-coup troops and police officers started taking over captured places.