- Colonel rejects earlier testimony
- Says he was under threat by the police
- Says he was forced to say Gulen ordered the coup
A Turkish colonel has said he was threatened to say that U.S.-based cleric ordered the military coup attempt last year, dismissing his earlier confession and rejecting any role in the putsch.
Arif Kalkan, who was a colonel at the time of the coup, said during a court hearing on Tuesday that he was told about a possibility of a terrorist attack and that he was asked to go the Gendarmerie Schools Command in Ankara, according to court proceedings reported by state-run news agency Anadolu.
When he saw news reports that showed troops occupying the Istanbul bridge and fighter jets flying low, he thought the rumors of possible terrorist attacks were true. He then proceeded to step up the security of the command and waited inside his post.
Col. Kalkan rejected any role in the coup attempt that resulted in the death of nearly 250 people and demanded his acquittal and release. He also dismissed his earlier confessions in which he said U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen ordered the coup.
He said he had to make this confession under pressure. When the judge of the court reminded him that he reiterated these claims during a Penal Court of Peace hearing in the past, Col. Kalkan said he was threatened by the police in that court as well.
In his previous statement, Col. Kalkan said he met with Gulen twice and that his fellow officers met in Ankara a month before the coup attempt. That meeting, which suspects reject as fabricated, is being used as the primary evidence of the coup-planning.
The government officials and the pro-government media have used Col. Kalkan’s testimony for months as one of the most important pieces of evidence that Gulen ordered the coup attempt.
Col. Kalkan’s account of events add to a growing list of suspects who said they were forced to give testimonies under pressure, threats or even torture. He is standing in a trial with 317 defendants, 61 of whom are under arrest.