World Bulletin / News Desk
Former Land Forces Commander Gen. Aytaç Yalman has claimed that it was he and not former chief of General Staff Gen. Hilmi Özkök who prevented a coup against the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government for which senior military commanders made preparations in 2003, in remarks which came as yet another confirmation of the existence of the controversial Sledgehammer coup plot.
Yalman made the remarks during a phone conversation with Akşam daily editor-in-chief and columnist İsmail Küçükkaya, who published the details of this conversation in his column on Wednesday. Küçükkaya said he had received a phone call from Yalman shortly after he appeared on a TV program on the NTV channel on Tuesday, during which he made remarks about the recently-concluded Sledgehammer coup trial.
Küçükkaya said Yalman expressed disappointment to him over Küçükkaya's failure to highlight Yalman's role in the prevention of a coup.
“For Hilmi Özkök, you said he is the person who prevented the coup. When you were asked, ‘What was the role of Aytaç Yalman?' you remained silent and did not say anything,” Küçükkaya quoted Yalman as saying.
When the journalist asked Yalman what he expected him to say, Yalman said: “You could have said, ‘The person who prevented the coup according to the indictment [in the Sledgehammer case] is Aytaç Yalman.' It was sufficient for you to say this, only a single sentence.”
When Küçükkaya asked Yalman whether it was really him who prevented the coup, Yalman said: “I don't know. The Turkish army is not comprised of a single man. It is not the chief of General Staff who takes care of everything. A cheap heroism does not benefit anybody. The Turkish army means Land Forces Command. How many tanks or weapons did Hilmi Pasha have [to prevent a coup]?” in remarks which downplayed Özkök's role in the prevention of a coup.
Yet there have been claims that a planned military coup would have been staged in 2003 if then-army chief Özkök had supported it. Özkök was also allegedly the target of a planned assassination due to his opposition to a military coup.
Sledgehammer is a suspected coup plot believed to have been devised in 2003 with the aim of unseating the AK Party government through violent acts. According to the Sledgehammer plan, the military was to systematically foment chaos in society through acts of violence, among which were planned bomb attacks on the Fatih and Beyazıt mosques in İstanbul. The plot allegedly sought to undermine the government to lay the groundwork for a coup d'état. The military, which has overthrown three governments since 1960 and pressured a conservative government to step down in 1997, has denied the existence of such a plan.
Opponents of the Sledgehammer trial claim that the case is based on forged documents, that the coup plan was fabricated and that the records of the 2003 seminar were manipulated to discredit the Turkish military. However Yalman's latest statements reveal that all these allegations are groundless.Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Eylül 2012, 16:25