Abidin Ünal, a retired general who was the commander of the Turkish Air Forces when the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) tried to seize power on July 15, 2016, spoke at a court in the capital Ankara yesterday about the coup attempt.
Ünal, who was kidnapped by putschists that night, recounted what happened as a plaintiff in a trial about the incidents at Akıncı Air Base. The base in Ankara, which the putschists used as command center, was where Ünal and then Chief of General Staff Hulusi Akar, as well as other top military brass, were held during the coup attempt. The coup attempt that left 250 people dead was quelled thanks to strong public resistance. However, the aftermath is still being dealt with as hundreds of putschists are on trial for their attempted takeover of Akıncı and other attacks. Ünal and other generals were at a wedding party in Istanbul on July 15, 2016 when military infiltrators of FETÖ moved to topple the government. He told the court that he called Akıncı's commander Hakan Evrim - one of the defendants in the coup trial - when he found out a putsch attempt was underway. "I asked him if he ordered the takeoff of aircraft [that launched airstrikes in the capital, including the bombing of Parliament]. He confirmed and I ordered him to call them back. He hung up after he told me he couldn't do it," Ünal told the court. Ünal said he later called air force commanders to stop the airstrikes, to no avail, before a team of putschist officers stormed the officers' club where the wedding party was held.
"I asked them what they were doing here and they told me they were there to protect me. Then, another team came and started firing shots. They were shouting and ordering people to leave. They pointed their guns at me and took me to a helicopter. We flew to the airport and were taken to a plane [that transported them to Akıncı base]," he said. "I saw Ahmet Özçetin [the operations commander at Akıncı and a coup suspect] in Akıncı. He told me they were ‘adjusting settings,'" Ünal recounted. Özçetin's reference was apparently about one of the generals behind the 1997 coup who famously said the military "adjusted democracy" by paving the way for overthrowing the government.
Ünal said he was locked up in a room for hours before Akın Öztürk, one of the putschist generals, came to see him. "He told me that he tried to prevent the coup. I think he tried to leave the base with me and other kidnapped generals when he couldn't leave on his own [due to raids by anti-coup troops]," he said.