Sakık questioned over killings of 33 soldiers

December 25, 2009, Friday/ 18:37:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN
Prosecutors investigating Ergenekon, a clandestine gang charged with plotting to overthrow the government, have questioned the former second-highest official in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) about the deaths of 33 soldiers in Bingöl 16 years ago.

The jailed leader of the outlawed PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, claimed last week that the killings of several Turkish soldiers in eastern Bingöl in 1993 were the work of a former PKK leader who had received orders from Ergenekon. His words came at a time when the case has been reopened under the Ergenekon investigation.

Öcalan discussed the killings of 33 Turkish soldiers in Bingöl in 1993 with his lawyers, who quoted him as saying that the killings were plotted by Şemdin Sakık upon an order from the Ergenekon criminal network.

According to reports yesterday, Ergenekon Chief Prosecutor Zekeriya Öz and two other prosecutors went to the Diyarbakır Prison, where the PKK’s former number two Şemdin Sakık is being held, questioning him about Öcalan’s accusations. Sakık said the orders to stage the attack were given by Öcalan himself. The meeting was confirmed by Sakık’s lawyer Aydın Altaç, who told the Taraf daily: “My client gave information to the prosecutors on the Bingöl incident and on other murders. He said the links behind the events in 1993 and beyond should be thoroughly investigated.” The lawyer said the negligence of commanders played a role in the Bingöl incident, noting that it was an attempt to sabotage a truce in place at the time. Earlier in the investigation, a soldier who survived the attack had testified to the prosecution.

Öcalan’s statements

Last week Öcalan, speaking about the Bingöl incident, reportedly told his lawyers: “I don’t understand why Sakık did such a thing. Each time I asked him about the incident, he gave different responses. I don’t mean to imply that Sakık had direct links with Ergenekon, but he was definitely used by the group.” Öcalan also said he would tell all he knew about the killings provided that a commission is established to investigate the incident. “If a commission is established, light will be shed on similar events. State courts cannot conduct investigations into such incidents. There should be jurists, academic or politicians on the commission. In this way, the public can decide who is right and who is wrong and who wanted the best course for Turkey and who intended to harm it,” he stated.

Meanwhile, the 27th hearing in the second Ergenekon trial -- where charges in the second and third indictments into the case are being heard -- took place in the Silivri Prison. In yesterday’s trial, defendant Tuncay Özkan, a journalist and head of the New Party (YP), presented his defense statement. He criticized the prosecutors for including too many details about his personal life in court proceedings. “How can you try my entire life? Do you have the authority? Do you have the energy? Do you have the brains or the power for that?” he asked, addressing the prosecution.

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