Two prominent figures that were in the most critical locations during the 2016 coup attempt have flatly denied their roles in the bid that killed 251 people and are seeking to relieve themselves of responsibility for the incident.
Ramazan Gözel and Mustafa Aydın were two military officers respectively stationed at the office of the Chief of General Staff, the army's headquarters, and at Akıncı air base, which was the heart of the coup attempt blamed on military infiltrators of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). They testified in yesterday's hearings inside a massive complex housing courtrooms and a prison for terror suspects in Ankara's Sincan district in two separate trials.
Staff Col. Ramazan Gözel was one of the closest figures to then-Chief of Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar as he was serving as his executive assistant when the coup unfolded. He was seen in security camera footage showing putschists taking top generals hostage on July 15, 2016. Gözel was one of the officers helping the putschists and was holding plastic handcuffs ready for Akar after the general's aide put a gun to Akar's head and forced him to accompany them to Akıncı air base, where the chief of staff and other anti-coup military brass were held by coup plotters. Gözel claimed in yesterday's hearing that he was a victim of "a conspiracy" and implied the evidence against him was "fake."
Maj. Mustafa Aydın similarly claimed his innocence. Aydın was an assistant for Gen. Abidin Ünal, the then-commander of Turkish Air Forces who was among those abducted by putschists. He said he was assigned for a new job in the military the week before the coup attempt and was "at home" when the coup attempt started. "Günay Köroğlu [his designated successor in his former job] called me and asked me if I was ‘summoned' to the base like him. I wasn't called by anyone, and I decided to go to [Akıncı] base anyway, suspecting something was happening. I was only in a wrong place at the wrong time," Aydın claimed. He also denied accusations that he was the officer who ordered troops not to allow anyone into the base as a group of civilians gathered outside to force their way inside to confront the putschists.