Security camera footage released by Doğan News Agency shows how Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and his deputy, Gen. Yaşar Güler, were held hostage by putschists during last year's foiled coup attempt. The footage showing the generals forced into a room blindfolded, contradicting testimony from defendants on trial over the insurrection. Several putschist officers had claimed that both men were not held against their will at Akıncı Air Base, the command center of the coup in which 249 people were killed on July 15, 2016.
Akar and Güler - who became Land Forces commanders after the coup attempt - were among the generals held hostage by putschists linked to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). Both men were liberated when the coup attempt was quelled thanks to strong public resistance and loyal police and military forces. They are plaintiffs in the trial of 486 people accused of commanding the attempt from Akıncı.
Two generals were kidnapped from their offices in the military headquarters by putschist members of an elite military force and flown to Akıncı. Akar was locked in the office of Brig. Gen. Hakan Evrim while Güler was held in the office of Ahmet Özçetin. Özçetin and Evrim, who were commanders at the base, are among the defendants imprisoned in the coup trial.
The footage shows Akar briefly. Mehmet Dişli, a putschist general who first notified Akar that a coup was underway, leaves the room where Akar is held about 30 minutes after entering the room. He is then engaged in a lengthy phone call in the aisle outside the room. Dişli had claimed in a previous hearing that he was forced to read the coup declaration to Akar at gunpoint by the coup plotters.
In a longer video, Yaşar Güler is seen blindfolded with his hands handcuffed behind him in the company of three soldiers. The soldiers almost drag Güler into the room, as the general looks exhausted. Some three minutes after he was forced into the room where he was held, a putschist soldier enters the room with a rope.
Prosecutors claim that when Akar refused to support the putschists, other senior coup plotters, including Akar's aides Ramazan Gözel and Levent Türkkan, stormed his room and Türkkan pointed his gun at the top general before he was tied up and forced out of the room.
Dişli has claimed he was also a victim of the coup attempt, claiming that Akar might have mistaken him for a putschist when they were taken together to the putschists' command center by helicopter. Dişli's denial of his role in the coup despite evidence to the contrary is part of what plaintiffs call a defense strategy based on repeated denial and lies. The general, who was the head of the strategy department at the military headquarters before the coup attempt, is accused of orchestrating the abduction of Akar, who was released hours later when the coup attempted was suppressed.
Meanwhile, new hearings started yesterday in a series of trials over the coup attempt in Ankara and Istanbul. In Istanbul, a court sentenced three former military officers to aggravated life sentences for commanding military school cadets who were brought to Istanbul from the nearby city of Yalova to aid the putschists. Also in Istanbul, the first hearing of officers involved in the coup attempt accused of storming the offices of public broadcaster TRT was adjourned after the court decided to merge the case with another lawsuit against the defendants. TRT was among the TV stations putschist soldiers raided to relay the declaration of the coup to the public. Hours after the takeover, police and civilians took back control from the putschists who managed to broadcast the message of the putschist commander's Peace at Home Council.
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