New evidence has emerged revealing that a gendarmerie officer who had surrendered during a July 15, 2016 coup attempt in Turkey was shot to death in cold blood.
According to still shots from CCTV footage and defendant testimony in court obtained by Nordic Monitor, Capt. Yasin Özdemir, a staff officer at the Gendarmerie General Command, was shot six times and killed on the spot. The footage shows the officer surrendering half naked and with his hands in the air in front of gendarmerie headquarters early in the morning of July 16.
The evidence was also included in an expert report submitted to the court. Four still shots from the CCTV video recording at the main entrance of the headquarters show a group of soldiers led by Capt. Özdemir moving towards the guardhouse in the early morning of July 16. The soldiers with their hands up and half naked are seen as a clear sign of surrender and posing no threat to others.
One of the still shots from the CCTV video footage indicates that Capt. Özdemir reached the main gate first, with both of his hands up. In a second photo it is clear that Özdemir was gunned down as he stepped out of the guardhouse, with the remaining soldiers squatting on the ground and appearing to be terrified by his getting shot.
The last two still shots from the the CCTV recording show Capt. Özdemir lying at the entrance to the guardhouse, determined by the expert report to have been dead.
According to witness statements and court transcripts Capt. Özdemir was called to work by his superiors because of a nationwide terror alert, not a coup attempt. Nordic Monitor previously published a report revealing classified intelligence documents filed by Turkish intelligence agency MIT days before the failed coup that prompted the Turkish Armed Forces to beef up security in and around military installations, critical infrastructure and other high-value targets in Istanbul and Ankara.
Criminal laboratory expert report that showed only one bullet was recovered from Özdemir’s body:Yasin_Özdemir_report1
The CCTV videos show that Özdemir arrived at headquarters at around 23:00 on July 15. He never left the complex according to the entry and exit timestamp records kept at the command center. According to Özdemir’s autopsy report dated September 8, 2016 and performed at the the Council of Forensic Medicine’s Ankara branch by three medical examiners, he was shot seven times, four times in the chest and neck area and two times in the abdomen, with one bullet grazing his body. The findings, which were identified in the presence of a prosecutor, suggest he was executed.
However, five months later, an Ankara Police Department criminal report dated February 14, 2017 claimed that only one bullet was extracted from his body and that the markings on the bullet found during a ballistics test were not recognized and not traced, which suggests that the authorities tried to cover up the execution of Özdemir.
On the night of July 15, Gendarmerie General Command headquarters were surrounded by police and gendarmerie special forces. Military personnel who were called to duty over a terrorist threat that night could not step outside or surrender. More than 10 gendarmerie personnel were killed that night. During the subsequent court hearings, Lt. Col. İrfan Tüten, a special operations officer who was assigned to raid the headquarters, testified as a witness saying that the gendarmerie headquarters were surrounded by police special forces and that those were police snipers stationed on high-rise buildings around the headquarters who opened fire on the building.
According to court transcripts, the deadly attack was commanded by Brig. Gen. Ahmet Hacıoğlu and police chiefs Eraslan Er and Yaman Ağırlar. Maj. Özkan Yılmaz, a staff officer working at headquarters, testified during a hearing that Hacıoğlu ordered his troops to execute the military personnel trapped inside the building, saying over the radio, “Kill all those sons of bitches.”
Noncommissioned officer Fatih Karabağ testified during a hearing on December 13, 2017 that Hacıoğlu ordered some of his subordinates not to back up the hard discs for surveillance cameras that were operating on the night of coup attempt. Karabağ also noted that the images from the CCTV surveillance cameras that monitor the Gendarmerie General Command headquarters’ guardhouse were erased and that this was determined during an examination of a digital video recorder with the serial number C5JL6V2C8011008. No recording was retrieved from this recorder on any day before July 29.
The coup bid on July 15, 2016 is believed to have been a false flag operation by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to consolidate his power over the military and judicial system by dismissing more than 130,000 public officials including governors, judges and military officers from their jobs and detaining 60,000 people on allegations of terrorist activity. The operation removed generals who were opposed to a Turkish military incursion into Syria and some 400 senior military staff who had served at NATO posts in Europe and the United States, as former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu publicly acknowledged during an interview with journalist Yavuz Oğhan on July 18, 2019.