The Ankara 9th High Criminal Court has decided to release two brothers, Turan and Metin Bilen, who were charged with the murder of two protesters in the Bulanık district of the eastern province of Muş in 2009.
Two people were killed and 10 others wounded on Dec. 16, 2009. Turan Bilen, a storeowner, opened fire on demonstrators protesting the closure of the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP) by the Constitutional Court on Dec. 11, 2009. The case was heard at the Samsun 1st High Criminal Court for security reasons in 2010. Turan Bilen's brother, Metin Bilen, was also accused of involvement in the killings.
The Bilen brothers' lawyer asked Chief Judge Hasan Şatır for the release of his clients, stating that his clients only acted in self-defense against the angry group of protesters. A public prosecutor present at the hearing on Wednesday also asked Şatır to release the Bilen brothers. The judge later decided to release them, stating that the defendants had only killed the two protesters while trying to defend themselves. The court also ruled to give Turan Bilen his rifle back, which was seized by police after the incident in 2009.
Turan Bilen, in his testimony in 2010, said he and his brother were going to be burned alive by the protesters if they had not opened fire to scare them away. He asserted that the protesters wanted them to close down their store. “I am a man committed to my homeland and to my people. I therefore kept my store open by exercising my democratic right to do so. Protesters surrounded our store and threw stones and Molotov cocktails,” he said, adding that his brother Metin had nothing to do with the shooting and that he was the only one who had opened fire with a Kalashnikov rifle. The weapon had been given to him because he was a volunteer village guard.