Okkan was killed along with five police officers who were guarding him on Jan. 24, 2001, in Diyarbakır. The assassination was attributed to the Turkish Hizbullah, a religious extremist group.
The secret witness, codenamed İlkadım, or “first step,” testified to the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court, which is hearing the case of Ergenekon, a shadowy crime network that has alleged links within the state and is suspected of plotting to topple the government. The 212th hearing of the trial was held on Tuesday.
The secret witness, who said he served as a village guard in Şırnak’s Silopi district in 1993 where he witnessed many incidents, said he met with Ersöz when Ersöz was a commander in Şırnak and that he had a role in Okkan’s assassination.
“Ersöz once called for a secret assignment. He sent us to [Mardin’s] Nusaybin with military officers. A group of seven dressed in peshmerga clothes and carrying arms came to us. They were fully equipped. We went to Diyarbakır with them,” he said.
The secret witness noted that those officers stood near a mosque while he waited at a gas station in Diyarbakır.
“I did not see Okkan’s vehicle coming or the clash. There was the sound of explosion first and then gunshots. The clash lasted for five to six minutes. We just brought them in a vehicle [the people wearing peshmerga clothes]. I did not hear what they were talking about,” he said. The secret witness said he learned about Okkan’s assassination the next day.
“Following Okkan’s killing, Ersöz became the regional commander of Diyarbakır. Okkan knew the region very well. That’s why they took his life,” he said.
İlkadım also claimed that jailed Ergenekon suspect retired Maj. Mehmet Zekeriya Öztürk masterminded the killing of six people in Şırnak when he was commander there.
He said Öztürk ordered military officers to bring six people to him following a clash with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that resulted in the killing of several Turkish soldiers.
The secret witness said the six people, including a village guard of Armenian origin, were killed at the order of Öztürk and that their bodies were never found. The victims were described as PKK members, he added.