Questioned by a court in the capital Ankara, former admiral Ömer Faruk Harmancık heaped blame on people who "disliked" him for the evidence showing he was among the pro-coup commanders in the command center of last year's July 15 coup. Harmancık, who is among the 486 defendants in Turkey's biggest trial in the coup bid linked to infiltrators of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) in the army, explained away his presence in the Akıncı base during the putsch attempt that killed 249 people as "coincidence," like other defendants. Harmancık claimed he was in the base to hitch a flight to a military plane to Istanbul, downplaying allegations that he was among commanders who led the coup plots all across Turkey.
The former admiral was in a room where abducted army chief Gen. Hulusi Akar was held in the Akıncı base and according to Akar's testimony, was one of the putschists trying to convince him to join the coup. Harmancık's fingerprints were found in a house where putschist commanders gathered to plan the coup before July 15 and several eyewitnesses had claimed he joined those meetings. Moreover, investigators discovered he made seven phone calls to Özay Cödel, a pro-coup captain sent to kill President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on July 15, 2016. Harmancık told the court his cellphone "must have been used by someone else" while he was in Akıncı.
In an odd twist, a non-commissioned officer who said in his initial testimony that Harmancık attended some meetings to plan the coup plot, backtracked in yesterday's trial and said he was "under pressure" when he "falsely" gave the name of Harmancık. However, he implied that his life may be in danger if he speaks out against Harmancık.
Ömer Faruk Harmancık said his links to FETÖ were based on accounts of other officers in the army who have been "hostile" to him while he was in the army and accounts of "officers known for psychological problems." He also said that the testimony of Mehmet Dişli, a pro-coup general who claimed it was Harmancık who held Akar hostage was wrong and Dişli blamed him due to the "rivalry" between him and Dişli.
He also refused to name Fetullah Gülen, the leader of FETÖ as the man behind the coup as multiple indictments and verdicts say. "If I acknowledge that he is a terrorist, then it means I am a terrorist too," Harmancık said.
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