A former member of the gendarmerie intelligence unit JİTEM, an illegal formation whose existence has been consistently denied by Turkish military officials, escaped a near fatal car crash in Sweden, where he has lived for more than a decade, Cihan news reported on Friday.
Abdülkadir Aygan, a former member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), who was later recruited by JİTEM, has been testifying as a key witness in a Diyarbakır trial, giving details about crimes committed by gendarmerie officers working for JİTEM.
The accident happened last week, according to information Aygan shared on his personal website. His vehicle first spun out of control and later fell into a roadside ditch on a curvy road because of another vehicle trying to overtake him. Aygan lost consciousness at the site of the accident, but was hospitalized when an elderly couple who witnessed the accident called emergency services. The vehicle was damaged beyond repair, Aygan wrote.
Aygan, who believes he escaped an assassination attempt, said the police weren't sure it was an overtaking accident and had not ruled out sabotage, adding that he was now in stable condition. He did not provide further details on the investigation into the accident.
He wrote on his website, “My last will is that nobody accuses anyone else if I am killed. Blame only me. Say of me: ‘He couldn't just sit calmly, he had to talk. Why did he have to be the one to speak the truth'?”
Two Diyarbakır specially authorized prosecutors working through the Swedish Justice Ministry in October 2010 sent Aygan some 70 questions pertaining to deaths and disappearances in the Southeast that are believed to have been perpetrated by JİTEM members in the 1990s. The PKK-member-turned-JİTEM informant responded to questions from prosecutors on 58 murders in testimony amounting to 21 pages. The testimony is now being reviewed by the prosecution, which says it will contribute to the investigation. On several occasions Aygan has spoken to the media at length about JİTEM's reign of terror, but the Diyarbakır Prosecutor's Office notes that this is his first formal testimony on the atrocities that occurred in the region.
Officials say that Aygan shared his knowledge of 58 murders, including those of Musa Anter, who was killed on Sept. 20, 1992, and Vedat Aydın, head of the pro-Kurdish People's Labor Party's (HEP) Elazığ branch, who was taken from his home on July 5, 1991, and later found dead near the Maden district of Elazığ. There are 16 suspects in the JİTEM trial in Diyarbakır being accused of multiple murders, arson and bomb attacks in Diyarbakır, Mardin, Batman and Şırnak. The court has also issued a warrant for Aygan's arrest, as he is a suspect in the trial. Sweden has refused to extradite Aygan, who the Diyarbakır Public Prosecutor's Office accuses of crimes against the integrity of the state and playing a role in the murder of Kurdish writer Musa Anter as well as an attack that wounded Orhan Miroğlu, a Kurdish intellectual.