Saturday, December 15, 2007


"I know that officer, we worked in the region together. He is not a kind to commit crime."
~ Yaşar Büyükanıt.

The Şemdinli murderers have been freed.

The two JIT officers and the "confessor" who were convicted to 39 years, 10 months and 27 days by Van's 3rd Heavy Penalty Court for manslaughter, forming a gang, and attempting manslaughter, have been released by the military court that was retrying their case. Apparently the military court does not believe that that the perpetrators of the Semdinli bombing will attempt to escape or that they have the ability to destroy evidence. The state's perpetrators were released during the first session of the military court. The court also decided to re-examine the evidence of the Şemdinli bombing until the court's next session. It also kindly invited the perpetrators to attend the second session.

Thus, those state organs which were trying to release the suspects from the very beginning, have achieved their end.

The lawyers for the victims left the court, saying they would not be a part of the game, since the military court is under the authority of Büyükanıt, who said of perpetrator Ali Kaya, "I know him; he's a good boy." With this statement, Büyükanıt intervened in the court's decision-making process--a violation of Article 288 of the Turkish Penal Code (attempting to influence the judiciary). Because Büyükanıt is at the top of the military hierarchy under which the court falls, the court will not come to a decision that contradicts Büyükanıt's statement.

Mark my words.

Basically, Büyükanıt's statement, which came immediately following the bombing, is a warning to everyone concerned in the case--including the courts--to keep out of the military's business. The example of Büyükanıt's interference with the judiciary should dispel any fears of democracy breaking out in Turkey and should confirm who it is that holds real power in Turkey.

Interference with judicial proceedings of the Şemdinli bombing case were two of the five concerns Amnesty International had regarding the handling of the case:

Interference in the investigation: After the 9 November bombing, a number of senior government and military officials made comments which Amnesty International regards as constituting direct interference in the course of the investigation of the incident. Among them, the Prime Minister made negative remarks regarding the credibility of witnesses to the incidents in Semdinli testifying on the events, and the Head of the Army publicly gave a positive character reference for one of the suspects. Amnesty International considers that judgements about the reliability of witnesses must be a matter for the court alone, and that discussions of the character of the accused must not be allowed to prejudice the course of the trial.

Amnesty International also notes that the General Chief of Staff [Hilmi Özkök] made laudatory comments about the Head of the Army [Yaşar Büyükanıt], while at the same time being responsible for a decision on whether or not the latter would be subject to an investigation by the military prosecutor on the basis of the information forwarded by the Van prosecutor (see the third concern). The Ministers of Justice and the Interior also commented publicly on the content of statements made by individuals interviewed by the Parliamentary Investigative Commission into the Semdinli incidents. One public official interviewed by the commission was subsequently removed from his position as Head of the Intelligence Bureau of the Security Directorate. Amnesty International is concerned that the Ministers’ comments may have discouraged public officials from sharing information with the Commission and may have contributed to prejudicing the final – and inconclusive – results of the commission’s investigation.


Interference in the prosecution and independence of the judiciary: Shortly after the 92-page indictment had been submitted to the panel of judges at the Van Heavy Penal Court for their approval in early March 2006, the content of the indictment became a subject of intense discussion between the government and the military, with the General Chief of Staff seeking extraordinary meetings with the Prime Minister and the President. Amnesty International considers that on the basis of these actions and public statements made by different parties, the content of the indictment was deemed unacceptable to some senior authorities even before the court – invested with the authority to accept or reject it – had made its decision. Amnesty International considers that the merits or defiencies of an indictment prepared by a prosecutor should be a matter for the court alone to decide, and that the actions of the General Chief of Staff constituted a direct interference in the proper role of the prosecution as well as in the independence of the judiciary.

This should be a cut-and-dried case since the perpetrators were captured by local residents of Şemdinli as they fled the scene of the crime. The vehicle which the perpetrators drove was found to have been registered to Jandarma forces. Among the contents of the trunk were three Kalishnikovs, magazines for the Kalishnikovs, hand grenades, drawings of the bookstore and of Seferi Yılmaz's home. Additionally, an assassination list and ID cards of Pakistani citizens and receipts of the Iraqi Turkmen Front were found in the vehicle. Furthermore, the Şemdinli bombing was only one out of twenty that were carried out in Şemdinli and Yüksekova between July 2005 and 9 November 2005, the day of the Şemdinli bombing--a fact which was ignored in all the reporting about Şemdinli.

Remember the "confessions" of retired Turkish military officers such as Erdal Sarızeybek, and his book I Saw the Betrayal, or Altay Tokat. Both have admitted to committing acts of terror in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan against Kurdish civilians or civil servants.

We also need to recall the words of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the wake of the Şemdinli bombing: "We will follow up on this incident, no matter where it leads, and whoever has to pay the price will pay it." The release of the Şemdinli murderers today is another indicator of the close cooperation between the Islamists and the Paşas which was part of the deal reached by both that resulted in an Islamist resident of Çankaya Köşkü. In return, Büyükanıt's threat regarding the status of his "good boys" is heeded by all and the Paşas are allowed to continue their Dirty War in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan.

Meanwhile, back at Qendil, Murat Karayılan says that AKP Kurds are not Kurds, but you heard it here first. By now AKP's position vis-a-vis the Kurdish people should be clear from the track record it has in dealing with serious issues in Turkish-occupied Kurdistan . . . issues like Şemdinli.

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