Meeting in an Ankara villa, FETO putschists began planning for the July 2016 defeated coup just a week after Turkey's November 2105 general election that brought the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party back to power as a single-party government, judicial sources said Sunday.
Beginning on Nov. 9, 2015 -- eight days after the Nov. 1 polls -- some senior members of the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) gathered in a three-story villa in the capital Ankara's Umitkoy neighborhood -- only 14 kilometers (9 miles) from downtown -- to plan the coup attempt against Turkey's elected government, according to a March 8 indictment in Ankara's 17th Heavy Penal Court, said the sources, who asked not to be named due to restrictions on speaking to the media.
Serkan Aydin, one of the suspects in the ongoing investigation by Ankara prosecutors, reportedly signed a rental agreement on Nov. 9 with the villa's owner Erdogan Attila, after seeing it listed online. Aydin claimed that the villa was being rented for use by the Umitkoy Empati Danismanlik Industry and Trade Limited Company.
That same day, the putschists started to meet, discuss, and plan the ill-fated coup.
A police search of the villa after July 15 found the fingerprints of Birol Kurubas, a wanted FETO member, as well of then-naval officer Omer Faruk Harmancik, the Northern Sea Area Command chief of staff who was also reportedly among the senior putschists.
A statement of a secret witness code-named Sapka (Hat) says that months later, he came to Ankara on July 6, where he was welcomed by a person code-named Cihan. Cihan brought Sapka to an office and told him that they were about to join a very important discussion somewhere else, along with another individual. After a while, Staff Col. Turgay Sokmen, code-named Abdullah, met the two, according to Sapka's testimony.
Together they got into a grey car with Ankara license plates and went to the three-story villa. Inside, there were reportedly 8-10 civilians in addition to Harmancik and then-Staff Col. Bilal Akyuz, Staff Col. Baris Avialan, Brig. Gen. Mehmet Partigoc, and Air Commodore Gokhan Sahin Sonmezates.
According to Sapka, Adil Oksuz, a chief suspect in the coup, was also present at the villa during the discussions.
- Details of the coup plot
"One of the first things to do on July 15 is to get our imprisoned community members out of prison without losing any time," Oksuz told the group, Sapka testified.
He also told them that he had just spoken with U.S.-based FETO leader Fetullah Gulen -- the chief coup-plotter, according to Ankara -- who sent his greetings to them. Oksuz added that he would soon leave Turkey to meet with Gulen and then return to Turkey.
The discussions at the villa included job assignments for the night of July 15, Sapka said. The witness said the coup was actually set to start on July 16 at 3 a.m. but was moved ahead with the sudden WhatsApp message "Start the operation" at 8 p.m. the night before. He stressed that after the message, further orders were sent through a newly established WhatsApp group called "Peace at Home Council".
Another witness code-named Kuzgun told Izmir prosecutors that he saw Harmancik at the villa and that he told him that they were working on a coup plan and that it was almost finished. He also told him that the planned date for the coup was going to be either July 15 or a week later, July 22.
Kuzgun added that Oksuz suggested he would take the coup plan to the U.S. to confirm it with Gulen.
According to Kuzgun, the discussion included plans to take total control across Turkey, arrest the president and prime minister, detain the chief of General Staff as well as the force commanders if they could not be persuaded to support the coup, and fill these posts with FETO members.
The details are included in the March 8 main indictment which the prosecutors have filed against 221 defendants, including U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen, said to be the central figures behind the bid to overthrow the government, which left 249 people martyred and some 2,200 injured.
Among the suspects are the members of the so-called "Peace at Home Council" established by the coup-plotters to replace the government.
Listed were a general, three lieutenant generals, four major generals, 16 brigadier generals, and three rear admirals. Twelve of the suspects are civilians. -