The grave of Ömer Halisdemir in his hometown in central Turkey has seen a rise in the number of visitors ahead of the anniversary of last year's bloody coup attempt. Halisdemir, a non-commissioned officer, was hailed as a hero for killing a general viewed as a key figure of the putschists, during the July 15 coup bid blamed on the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ). Halisdemir was killed by the entourage of brigadier general Semih Terzi but his action more or less derailed the putschists' plan to take over Special Forces Command Headquarters, where Halisdemir was stationed.As Turkey prepares to remember the coup's 249 victims, visitors from all across the country and abroad have descended on Çukurkuyu, his hometown in the central province of Niğde, reciting prayers. Talha Agim says he traveled from Belgium where he lives to pay a visit to the grave of his "hero." "He was not an ordinary man, he became a martyr for this country and I hope God grants him his heaven," he told Anadolu Agency (AA). Vedat Kazoğlu, a Turk who lives in Germany, was in the capital Ankara when pro-coup troops started their attempt to seize power. He remembers well what transpired on the night of the coup when fighter jets pounded Parliament and dropped bombs on civilians confronting the putschists. This is why he decided to make a stopover in Çukurkuyu en route to his hometown Şanlıurfa in the southeast. "We owe our lives to Halisdemir. I plan to visit him again. It is really an emotional moment to be here today," he told AA.
Hakan Gökkaya, a police officer stationed in the western city of İzmir is also among the visitors and says Halisdemir was his high school friend. "He was a modest man and a true patriot. I often ask myself if I could make the sacrifice he did. He should be appreciated for what he did," he says.
Meanwhile, the next hearing in the trial of the killing of Halisdemir will be held today in the capital Ankara. Eighteen defendants, including the putschist officer who fired the shots that killed Halisdemir, face aggravated life imprisonment.