Human remains found in excavation in Mardin

An excavation is being conducted in Dargeçit, Mardin province, to locate the remains of six people who disappeared after being detained by the gendarmerie in 1995. (Photo: AA)

February 22, 2012, Wednesday/ 17:34:00

A skull, several bones and clothes were found in Mardin on Wednesday during an excavation being carried out as part of an investigation into the disappearance of six people who were detained by the gendarmerie in 1995.

The excavation is being conducted near the village of Bağözü in Mardin's Dargeçit district. The human remains were found inside a well near the village, sources close to the investigation say. On Friday, the Diyarbakır Special Prosecutor's Office, which is in charge of the probe, had five locations in the same area excavated.

Wednesday’s excavation was a continuation of earlier attempts to locate the bodies of the six people killed. The remains were found before the excavation started.

Seven people were detained in 1995 after two teachers in Dargeçit were allegedly killed by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). After three months, the body of Süleyman Seyhan, one of the seven people detained during the investigation, was found in a well. The whereabouts of the other six detainees, or their bodies, were unknown. The Diyarbakır Special Prosecutor’s Office recently launched an investigation to find the bodies based on witness testimonies, following demands for an investigation by the missing persons’ families.

Over the past few weeks about 29 skulls have been found during excavations in Diyarbakır, in the province’s historic İçkale neighborhood.

A large number of bone fragments and skulls were discovered in previous weeks by laborers laying pipes close to the former headquarters of JİTEM, a clandestine intelligence organization within the gendarmerie that is believed to have been responsible for thousands of unsolved murders in eastern and southeastern Turkey in the ’90s.

The intensive excavations in the area in January and February have raised hopes that light will be shed on some of the unsolved murders that took place during this dark period. Hundreds of people are said to have been tortured at the JİTEM headquarters.

Although İçkale was known to be one of JİTEM’s execution sites, no excavations in search of human remains were permitted in the area before the discovery because it had been designated as a historic site. Bone fragments and skulls that were unearthed last month have been transported under high security to the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) in İstanbul, where DNA tests will be carried out.

Thousands of people went missing in the Southeast during the height of JİTEM’s reign of terror in the Kurdish-dominated region.

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