Teams from the police department’s counterterrorism unit, armed with detectors and assisted by specially trained dogs, on Thursday searched in Tekirdağ for the remains of a man who once worked for the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) but went missing in 1996.
The events that led to Thursday’s search for the remains of ex-MİT officer Tarık Ümit began when former special ops officer Ayhan Çarkın in 2008 called into a television program, saying, “I killed maybe 1,000 people on behalf of the state.” Three years later, he now understands that those murders were not committed for the state but for police chiefs or intelligence officers who wanted in on the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) drug business.
Çarkın, who is now jailed as a suspect in an investigation recently re-launched into several assassinations that took place in the 1990s and are believed to have been committed by shady and faceless groups inside legitimate state-security organizations, earlier this week said he was ready to share what he knows about the fate of MİT officer Ümit. He said Ümit was executed by one of the gangs nested inside the state intelligence agency at the time. He also said he was present at the time of his burial.
An Ankara court issued a permit for Çarkın to assist Ankara Prosecutor Hakan Yüksel, who is conducting the murder investigation, and he was flown to İstanbul on Thursday morning.
Counterterrorism units searched two separate plots of land indicated by Çarkın in the Büyükçavuşlu area of Çerkezköy, in Tekirdağ. He afterwards pointed out a third spot, where excavation efforts were started. They were still underway when Today’s Zaman went to print.
Cemalettin Ümit, the uncle of the slain agent, also met with Çarkın on Thursday, shortly after Çarkın’s arrival in İstanbul. Ümit declined to comment to the press, but he did engage in a conversation with Çarkın.
Question motion on Çarkın map
Meanwhile, a statement from Çarkın published in the Taraf daily on Tuesday – claiming he had given a hand-drawn map indicating the location of Ümit’s body to an İstanbul prosecutor four months ago but that the prosecutor did not take any action – was taken up in Parliament on Thursday. Republican People’s Party (CHP) Diyarbakır Deputy Sezgin Tanrıkulu submitted a question motion about the prosecutor’s failure to follow up on Çarkın’s first revelation on Ümit.
Tanrıkulu is demanding a response from Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin on his query, in which he seeks verification that Çarkın indeed gave a map showing the location of Ümit’s body to a prosecutor in İstanbul. He noted in the query that there was no mention of any such map in the files sent from the İstanbul Prosecutor’s Office to the Ankara Prosecutor’s Office regarding the unsolved murders case.
He also demanded to know whether any legal action had been taken against those who left the map out of the case files or if there were any plans to take action if Çarkın’s statement that he had previously tipped off a prosecutor is true.
The unsolved murders case was launched in Ankara after Çarkın’s revelations that he might have killed nearly 1,000 people as part of the Turkish state’s “counterterrorism efforts.” In addition to Ümit’s burial site, Çarkın says he can take prosecutors to the gravesites of three students who disappeared while in custody in 1992.
Çarkın was also convicted in the investigation into shady gangs working within security units that was launched following the 1996 Susurluk Affair, which began with a traffic accident that revealed links between the state, criminal gangs and the police.