Ergenekon evidence reopens Gazi case

Ergenekon evidence reopens Gazi case

Unknown assailants opened fire from a taxi on three cafés and one patisserie in İstanbul's Gazi neighborhood on March 12, 1995, leaving 17 dead.

August 14, 2008, Thursday/ 18:51:00
The attorneys for those injured in the 1995 Gazi incident announced yesterday that they planned to reopen their case against the police in light of new evidence unearthed during the investigation into the Ergenekon gang,  a shadowy network whose suspected members are being accused of having planned and staged attacks and assassinations for the ultimate aim of toppling the government.

If the lawyers’ application to reopen the case succeeds, it will likely become a model for several other cases that will be re-examined to consider evidence contained in the Ergenekon case indictment.

Remzi Kazmaz, a spokesman for and member of the group of lawyers involved in the prosecution over the Gazi events of 1995 -- where 17 were killed in an Alevi neighborhood of İstanbul -- told Today’s Zaman that they would request that the courts reopen the case because of additional information now available because of the Ergenekon investigation. “Actually, in the face of this new evidence, the public prosecutors should reopen the case. But we will submit our application to the court very soon,” Kazmaz said. The Ergenekon indictment claims that the Gazi events were provocations, and that the perpetrators were linked to Ergenekon terror gang, citing the testimony of one of the secret witnesses in the indictment.

On March 12, 1995 unknown assailants opened fire from a taxi on three cafés and one patisserie in İstanbul's Gazi neighborhood, where many Alevi Turks live. In the attack, one person was killed and 25 were injured. After the attack, neighborhood residents staged a protest in front of the local police station, claiming that security forces were late to intervene in the incident. The police opened fire on the protesters, and another civilian was killed.

"After this point, the situation calmed down. The inhabitants went to the cemevi [Alevi house of worship] for the funeral preparations. But early in the morning, the people in the cemevi were attacked again. Those who began their provocations by attacking the cafés finished it by attacking the cemevi," Kazmaz recalled.

After the attack on the cemevi, tensions rose again and clashes erupted between police and rioters in which another 15 people were killed. A curfew was imposed on the neighborhood and military forces intervened. Yet another riot took place in İstanbul's Ümraniye district in protest of the Gazi events, and five more people were killed.

"Most of the killings were done by rifles, but to this day those guns have not been found," Kazmaz said.

It was alleged even at that time that the Gazi events had been orchestrated by mafia leader Sedat Peker, now a defendant in the Ergenekon case.

The trial for the Gazi events took place in Trabzon. Twenty policemen were indicted, but only two were convicted. The Supreme Court of Appeals decided on a retrial, but the two policemen were still convicted and sentenced to four years in prison. This time the court upheld the decision. Following the court's decision, the lawyers for the victims' families applied to the European Court of Human Rights. The court convicted Turkey and demanded compensation.

Regarding the European court case, Kazmaz said, "Our aim was not money; we wanted to shed light on these dark events." He went on to talk about the Susurluk case, referring to an investigation that started when a traffic accident in 1996 near the northwestern township of Susurluk exposed links between a police chief, a deputy who was also the head of a large Kurdish clan in the Southeast armed by the state to fight against Kurdish separatists and an internationally sought criminal who was also head of Turkey's ultranationalist Idealist Clubs. "After the Susurluk case we had hoped that the reality of the situation would be exposed, but it did not take place," he said.

Veli Küçük, a former army general who is now a suspect in the Ergenekon case, was also called to testify in the Susurluk case although no charges were brought against him.

The Ergenekon indictment, which already mentions the Susurluk case, also mentions new evidence concerning the Gazi events. A secret witness in Ergenekon openly states that the gang was involved with the Gazi provocations, and that they were organized by Sedat Peker by the order of Veli Küçük. Another Ergenekon suspect, Osman Gürbüz, is alleged to have actually opened fire on the cafés and patisserie.

Before the Ergenekon indictment was made public, some of the victims' families in the Gazi events had already applied to the court with the claim that Gürbüz had been involved in the Gazi event. The relatives were demanding the reopening of the case. 

"In our opinion, the case had to be reopened. We had made this request, but we did not get any answer. Now there is new evidence," Kazmaz stated.

Though the Ergenekon indictment mentions the alleged link between the Gazi events and the Ergenekon gang, the Gazi events are not officially listed as an Ergenekon crime. 

CHP had contacts with PKK leaders, says report 

Some members of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) met with leaders of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the year 2000, according to a document allegedly written by the Turkish General Staff.

The General Staff document, a report written for the National Security Council (MGK), was found among other top-secret documents in a search as part of the Ergenekon investigation. It claims that some members of the CHP, which was then chaired by Altan Öymen, had meetings with members of the PKK in Europe. The General Staff also wrote that the CHP's Kurdish policy at the time, which included an election alliance with a pro-Kurdish party, was similar to PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan's proposals to solve the Kurdish problem.

The report reviews the CHP's Kurdish policies, which were summarized under the title "A Solution with the People." The report criticizes the CHP for being too close to PKK- related organizations in their visits to the Kurdish-dominated Southeast. İstanbul Today's Zaman with wires

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