Jan 11 2019

Turkish general’s early resignations is suspicious, says pro-government Yeni Şafak

A Turkish brigadier general to the Turkish Air Forces Command, Özkan Edip Akgülay, demanded early retirement amid the arrest of high-ranking soldiers who Turkey blames for organising a 2016 coup, pro-government newspaper Yeni Şafak reported on Friday.

Turkish Air Forces has been a focus of prosecutors investigating the coup attempt since 2016. Continuous operations have been launched by the Turkish police and judiciary against retired and existing personnel of the air command. Only this week, the prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 29 military officers, while 60 were detained in December and 88 in November.

Akgülay, assigned as a brigadier general in a 2017 Supreme Military Council meeting, was a promising soldier and his surprising retirement request drew the attention of Turkish authorities, Yeni Şafak said.

Former retired brigadier general of the Air Forces Command, Ergun Eskici, also demanded retirement in the aftermath of the coup attempt in July 2016. But after he left the office, Turkish authorities linked him to the Gülen Movement, which Turkey accuses of orchestrating the failed coup. The cases look similar, and Akgülay’s request seems suspicious, Yeni Şafak said.

During the coup attempt, Akgülay was commanding an air force base in the southeastern city of Diyarbakır, and its jets patrolled over a hotel which hosted Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan that night. Following the coup attempt, Turkish police detained Akgülay, but he was later released conditionally.

According to Yeni Şafak, during the coup attempt, Akgülay did not take any precautions to prevent the jets from flying, and it was impossible for pilots to be missioned without his consent.

Akgülay’s testimony was heard on Dec. 28 during a hearing related to military officers on trial for their activities on the night of the coup in Akıncı base in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

Some six Turkish jets bombed the parliament, and more than 200 people lost his lives in the incidents during the coup attempt on July 15, 2016.