ANKARA (AA) – A Turkish army officer has revealed in his testimony at an Ankara court that the July 15 coup attempt was supposed to start hours later at 3 a.m. but it was pulled ahead of schedule, Anadolu Agency learnt Wednesday.
Lt. Col. Umit Gencer said he was made aware of the plot three days ahead of coup night when Col. Enver Topal told him the attempt would be made at 3 a.m. on July 16.
However, Gencer said Col. Kutsi Baris called him between 8.30 p.m. and 9 p.m. on July 15. “He gave me the martial law declaration signed by the General Staff.”
He said he then went to the state television TRT to read the military’s coup order. He said when he entered the TRT office in Ankara, people in the newsroom were at first afraid to see the troops.
“I tried to make them feel comfortable. I told them the General Staff had seized control. You are safe! I also have children as you have. I want to go out once everything is over,” Gencer recalled saying to the TRT staff trapped inside the channel’s Ankara headquarters.
The military officer said at first he thought he himself would read out the notice about the martial law order on air; however, he received an order later saying: “Do not read it, but make a civilian read it.”
TRT anchorwoman Tijen Karas was then forced to read the declaration, announcing the military takeover.
However, when Karas was reading the declaration, Gencer said he heard noise of gunfire ringing out from the channel’s main entrance.
“I thought the soldiers were firing in the air. But when I went outside, I saw civilians were taking on the soldiers and were trying to snatch their rifles. They also tried to take my gun.”
He said he then tried to enter the TRT building after firing a few times in the air. “I saw the number of civilians had increased and then I surrendered,” he said.
Around 20 Fetullah Terror Organization/Parallel State Structure (FETO/PDY) members had tried to occupy TRT offices on July 15. However, they themselves were later detained by Turkish police.
Turkey went through a deadly coup attempt on July 15, when rogue elements of the military tried to overthrow the country’s democratically-elected government.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets to protest against the failed coup, which martyred at least 246 and wounded more than 2,100 people.
The country accuses U.S.-based preacher Fetullah Gulen and his Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) of being behind the attempted coup and has called for his extradition to Turkey to face trial.
*Emin Avundukoglu contributed to this report from Ankara.