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Turkey air force ex-chief denies planning coup, says don’t know who directed it

world Updated: Jul 18, 2016 23:40 IST
Turkey air force ex-chief

A member of the police special forces stands guard in front of the air force academy in Istanbul, Turkey.(Reuters)

One of the most senior military figures detained on charges of involvement in Turkey’s failed coup bid appeared in court Monday, denying he was the mastermind of the plot.

Looking tired and haggard with his ear bandaged in images published by state media, former air force chief General Akin Ozturk appeared before the criminal court in Ankara.

The court was to decide if he and 26 other generals and admirals should be remanded in custody ahead of trial, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

They are accused of trying to overthrow the existing order and also of plotting to assassinate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In his statement to prosecutors, Akin denied that he had been the ringleader of the coup, whose identity remains unclear.

“I am not the person who planned or led the coup. Who planned it and directed it I do not know,” Anadolu quoted him as saying.

Some Turkish media had earlier quoted him as confessing to have played a prime role in the coup but later replaced this information with his denial.

Turkey’s treatment of the coup suspects had alarmed its allies, with EU and US leaders urging Ankara to respect the rule of law.

Anadolu published images of Ozturk and other suspects on the stairs inside of the Ankara court house, staring blankly into the camera with their hands tied behind their backs.

Turkey has blamed the coup on supporters of Erdogan’s arch enemy, the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen, within the military.