Death squad targeted Today's Zaman columnist
Today's Zaman columnist Orhan Kemal Cengiz (Photo: Today's Zaman)
Documents that were allegedly prepared by a secret formation inside the Gendarmerie Command indicate that a group planning to assassinate non-Muslim figures in the Malatya area had plans to murder Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a lawyer and a journalist who contributes to Today's Zaman.
The documents were retrieved from a computer that was seized during the search of a location connected to Maj. Haydar Yeşil, the director of the intelligence unit of the Malatya Gendarmerie Command. The major is a suspect in the Zirve trial over the brutal murder of three Bible publishers in Malatya in 2007. The Taraf daily revealed the content of the hard disk, saying it had been inaccessible for many years, although it didn't say why.
The computer also had documents titled “okc articles.” The prosecution has established the OKC to be Orhan Kemal Cengiz, who is also a lawyer for the co-plaintiffs in the Zirve trial. This folder includes articles, essays and interviews by Cengiz. Zirve murder suspect Çınar has said that there were plans to assassinate Cengiz, who is also Christian, over his remarks against the Ergenekon organization, a clandestine gang inside the military whose suspected members are charged with plotting to overthrow the government.
The hard drive includes military reports, voice recordings and even PowerPoint presentations, according to Taraf's report, regarding the workings of Ergenekon as well as a military memorandum issued against the government on April 27, 2007 and information regarding activities of the National Strategies and Operations Department of Turkey (TUSHAD), an official body that was established in the gendarmerie to carry out illegitimate operations. There are also documents concerning Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Zirve victims as well as detailed reports on missionary activity in Malatya. A voice recording on the hard disk features three Zirve murder trial suspects -- Ruhi Abat, a theology instructor; İlker Çınar a gendarmerie officer; and Maj. Yeşil -- talking about Hrant Dink, a Turkish-Armenian journalist who was also assassinated in 2007. The voice recording was made one month prior to Dink's murder, Taraf said. They speak of Hrant Dink being related to missionaries, although Dink is known as a journalist with a highly secular outlook, unusual for Turkey's Armenian community. They also associate him with ultranationalist Armenians' land demands from Turkey, which based on Dink's life and work, would have been an impossibility. This and other voice recordings indicate that the suspects initially tried to make the murders look as if they were the result of a conflict between various Christian factions.