MİT officer's death shrouded in mystery
Many questions have emerged following the suspicious death of National Intelligence Organization (MİT) official Kaşif Kozinoğlu in a prison where he had been in custody since March on charges of membership in the Ergenekon terrorist organization, seizing confidential state documents and sharing them with third parties.
Kozinoğlu died of a heart attack in prison on Saturday. His death has raised suspicions about whether he was killed, as he had been scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 22.
An autopsy is still due but the question that now begs an answer is if he was indeed killed, who killed him and why. Bugün daily's Adem Yavuz Arslan raised the question about who would be most disturbed by the possibility of Kozinoğlu talking, noting that Kozinoğlu was a publicly known MİT official. Prior to working for MIT Kozinoğlu had retired from the Special Forces Command; his successor, Mustafa Levent Göktaş, is another Ergenekon suspect. Arslan said everyone who knew him knew he was involved in shady operations in MİT's foreign operations unit, particularly in Central Asia, Afghanistan and China. He was known to have taken part in a large number of covert and shady operations.
Arslan pointed out that there seem to be a number of additional factors that make Kozinoğlu's death suspicious. He said the athletic Kozinoğlu had never even come down with the flu and the only reported health problem he had was an ear-related condition. The claim is that he died of a heart attack following vigorous physical exercise. Arslan noted that it was suspicious that Kozinoğlu was sent back to prison after he was taken to a hospital when he told the guards he wasn't feeling well.
Sources claim that Kozinoğlu had agreed to give secret testimony; if he had talked, many people with links to him would certainly had a lot of their dirty laundry revealed.
Forensic medicine expert Nevzat Alkan said on Monday that independent doctors should be present during Kozinoğlu's autopsy. He said this would protect the members of the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) from suspicion in the future. He also said sufficient samples should be taken to allow for additional toxicology testing in the future.
Kozinoğlu was arrested as part of an investigation into the Odatv news portal, which is accused of aiding and abetting Ergenekon, an organization that allegedly plotted to overthrow the elected government.
Kozinoğlu suffered a heart attack at the No. 1 F-type Prison in the Silivri Prison Complex on the outskirts of İstanbul on Saturday evening. Prison doctors and the prosecutor's office were immediately informed, but doctors were unable to save him. His body was sent to the ATK for an autopsy.
The Ministry of Justice issued a statement concerning Kozinoğlu's death on Sunday, saying a preliminary examination did not indicate any physical signs of assault. The ministry noted he had reported felt faint after engaging in heavy exercise, citing his roommate's account.
One of the most mysterious members of MİT, Kozinoğlu was photographed for the first time in many years by photojournalists when he arrived in İstanbul's Beşiktaş Courthouse in March. Newspapers earlier had only published in image of the MİT member that had been allegedly taken many years ago.
He was tasked with training special police teams in 1986 when he was a member of the Special Warfare Department. In 1987 he contributed to the establishment of MİT's first foreign branch. A few years later he retired from the Special Warfare Department at the rank of major. He later started officially working for MİT. During his time as a MİT official he made many trips to Afghanistan both before and after its occupation by US forces.
Kozinoğlu allegedly had close ties to Alaattin Çakıcı, arguably the most infamous mafia boss in Turkey. He was caught in several phone conversations with Çakıcı while trying to help the mafia boss flee Turkey. In an earlier testimony to prosecutors Kozinoğlu had said MİT had learned about the planned assassination of a high-level politician in Turkey and was trying to prevent it by being in close contact with Çakıcı.
The indictment into the Odatv news website includes revelations about Kozinoğlu and includes notes from Soner Yalçın, Odatv's owner, where Kozinoğlu is referred to as “the mole.” Yalçın's notes say that Kozinoğlu had a direct line of communication with then-chief of General Staff, retired Gen. Doğan Güreş. Kozinoğlu is also mentioned in documents seized from Veli Küçük and Şener Eruygur, two retired generals who are currently key suspects in the main Ergenekon trial.