19 Jul 2016

Confusion over Turkish Commander's coup 'confession'

7:53 am on 19 July 2016

There are conflicting reports about whether a former Turkish air force commander has confessed to planning Friday's attempted military coup.

Former air force commander Gen. Akin Ozturk is seen under custody at Ankara Police Headquarters

Former air force commander General Akin Ozturk being held at Ankara Police Headquarters and has bruises to his head and upper body. Photo: AFP

At least 232 people died and 1400 were wounded in the ensuing violence, and there have been mass arrests.

The state-run Anadolu news agency quoted General Akin Ozturk as telling interrogators he had "acted with intention to stage a coup".

Photographs of the general published by Anadolu appear to show several injuries to his head and upper body.

But two private broadcasters said the General had denied playing a role.

NTV quoted him as saying: "I am not someone who has planned or directed the coup attempt ... I don't know who did."

Mr Anadolu said he was one of 112 generals and admirals who had been detained.

Fifty had been remanded in custody pending trial, NTV reported.

Turkish former Air Force Commander Gen. Akin Ozturk (R) is seen under custody at Ankara Police Headquarters Counter-Terrorism Branch following the failed Parallel State/Gulenist Terrorist Organization's military coup attempt, in Ankara, Turkey

There have been conflicting reports about whether the General confessed to plotting the coup attempt. Photo: AFP

The Interior Ministry also reportedly dismissed almost 9000 police officers on Monday, as part of a purge of officials suspected of involvement.

That followed the arrest of 6000 military personnel and suspension of almost 3000 judges over the weekend.

Turkey's Western allies have expressed concern at the crackdown and urged President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to respond in a measured way.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Mr Erdogan on Monday (local time) that Turkey's ambitions to join the European Union would be over if he carried through on a threat to reinstate the death penalty.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised the great courage of the Turkish people, but added that a valued ally had to ensure full respect for democracy.

And the American State Department has also cautioned Turkey against going beyond what it calls "legitimate efforts" to bring coup plotters to justice.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu meanwhile dismissed as "unacceptable" a claim by the EU enlargement commissioner, Johannes Hahn, that the government in Ankara had drawn up arrest lists before the coup attempt.

The government has blamed the coup attempt on supporters of a US-based Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gulen.

Mr Gulen has denied any involvement and suggested the coup may have been staged itself.

Meanwhile the United States lifted its ban on Turkish Airlines flights to the United States on Monday, broadcaster CNN Turk reported.

The ban, which included both direct flights and those from a third country, went into effect after a failed coup over the weekend.

-BBC / Reuters