‘Shady gang inside state was behind 1990s Kurdish businessmen’s assassinations’

‘Shady gang inside state was behind 1990s Kurdish businessmen’s assassinations’

Peker was taken to Ankara by gendarmes on Wednesday from İstanbul’s Silivri Prison to testify to the prosecutor.

November 03, 2011, Thursday/ 16:06:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

One of the most important witnesses to the illegal activities of shady groups inside the state hierarchy, Sedat Peker, a mafia leader, has made important revelations in testimony that is part of an ongoing investigation into numerous unsolved murders and assassinations in the 1990s, saying individuals using the state's authority were behind the murders.

Peker, who is currently an inmate at Silivri Prison over a crime unrelated to the unsolved murders investigation, was brought to Ankara on Wednesday to testify to the prosecutor who is conducting the cold cases, reopened earlier this year, from the 1990s.

Excerpts from his testimony were published in some Turkish newspapers on Thursday.

In his nine-page testimony Peker said: “Everybody knew at the time that there was a death list of businessmen who helped the Kurdistan Workers' Party [PKK], and some of the people on the list had already been killed. I should state one thing clearly: You couldn't speak of the state being out there in those days. There were only people using the authority given to them by the state, but nothing of what they did had any relation to state duties.”

Peker was taken to Ankara by gendarmes. His lawyer, Yusuf Turku Tekayak, accompanied him his four-and-a-half hour testimony with prosecutor Hakan Yüksel. In his testimony he denied any relation to any of the murders committed in the '90s or to any of the groups that are alleged to have perpetrated the murders.”

Peker said he was a 22-year-old “hot blooded” young man in 1993 who was in and out of jail because of his life “filled with action.”

Some of the more important revelations in his testimony included a meeting with Veli Küçük, a general who is now in jail as a suspect in the investigation into Ergenekon, a clandestine network accused of plotting to overthrow the government. Küçük was earlier implicated in the 1996 Susurluk affair, which for the first time revealed links between the mafia, deputies and the police force, after a member of each group was discovered to be together inside a black Mercedes that had crashed into a truck in the northwestern township of Susurluk. Two of them died, the deputy survived, but he claimed to suffer from memory loss after the accident. There have been claims that the accident was also a set up. Küçük was never convicted over his role in the Susurluk network, but Peker was.

In his testimony Peker said that Korkut Eken, a former military and National Intelligence Organization (MİT) officer convicted in the Susurluk affair, at the time worked for Mehmet Ağar, a former police chief and later politician. He said Küçük tried to locate Tarık Ümit, a MİT agent who went missing in 1995. Police chief Mehmet Eymür requested Küçük's help in finding Ümit, according to Peker. He said although his body was never found, Peker was sure that Ümit had been killed. “He was a very influential man. He always wore a long overcoat with an Uzi under it. I remember that Ümit was kidnapped in retaliation for Yeşil having kidnapped two Iranian drug dealers in İstanbul at the time.”

Yeşil, one of the most mysterious personalities in Turkey's history of shady networks and gangs, mostly acted as a hitman for the state officials he took orders from. He also disappeared in the late '90s, but there have been claims that he is still alive.

Peker also said that some individuals working for the state had also proposed adding Kurdish businessman Halis Toprak, who was in the media spotlight earlier this year for marrying an 18-year-old girl (he is now 73), to the death list. This proposal, however, was rejected.

The businessmen killed in those years include Ömer Lütfi Topal, who owned a casino empire, and Behçet Cantürk and Savaş Buldan, whose spouse Pervin Buldan is currently a deputy for the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

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