Putschist troops who attempted to kill President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during last year's coup attempt blamed on the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) threatened judges with a future "trial of their own."
The defendants spoke during their Friday hearings in southwestern Turkey on the assassination case, as the court got ready to announce its verdict before adjourning the trial to a future date. Former Maj. Şükrü Seymen, accused of coordinating the attack teams at the Muğla hotel where Erdoğan was staying on July 15, 2016, acknowledged that he volunteered to join the coup.
Seymen is among 44 imprisoned defendants, mostly members of an elite military unit dispatched by coup plotters to kill Erdoğan. Three other suspects remain at large. "I knew what I was doing was a coup attempt, but I didn't fire on people," Seymen claimed. Two police officers were killed and several others were injured when two teams of assassins arrived by helicopter and fired on the hotel. Erdoğan had left the location a few hours before the attack after learning of the putsch. Seymen claimed he was the victim of a plot. "One day, others will be tried in this courtroom for this plot," Seymen told the judge.
Former Brig. Gen. Gökhan Şahin Sönmezateş, who organized the mission to kill Erdoğan and a member of the coup plotters' Peace At Home Council, told the court he already "knew what the judges would decide." Sönmezateş was the first defendant in the coup trials across Turkey to admit joining the coup willingly. Other defendants claimed they were "tricked" into joining the coup or that they thought it was "a counterterror operation" at the time.
Ergün Şahin, another member of the assassination team, said the trial was "not fair." "I hope you will be tried here one day, but I hope it won't be a trial like mine," he told the judges. Lawyers for the plaintiffs reacted to Şahin's threats while Emirşah Baştoğ, who heads the panel of judges, said they were only working to "disclose evidence" for a fair trial. In the coup trials, most defendants, despite mounting evidence showing their involvement, deny the charges brought before them in court. In another trial in Ankara, a former general accused of links to FETÖ had threatened the court in a hearing last month. "There will be a price to pay if you convict someone who is innocent," Alpaslan Çetin, who was stationed at the General Staff headquarters in the capital Ankara during the coup attempt, told the judges.