The Lice trial, known as a ‘quarter century trial’, resulted with acquittal. Similarly, the cases of Nezir Tekçi, Musa Çitil, Görümlü, Cizre JİTEM (Gendarmerie Intelligence Anti-Terrorism Unit), and the Kulp massacre are extremely important regarding the confrontation with the past and well-known by the public. Yet, although they are trials that can shed light on the period, their conclusion with impunity put an end to the expectations for justice and confrontation with the past.

Hayri Demir

In 2013 the re-opening of human rights violations cases which were related to murders with unidentified perpetrators committed in Eastern and Southeastern Anatolia in the 90s has created hope for justice and for confrontation with the past. The trials which have opened after a quarter of a century ended with no guilty and put an end to the expectations for justice and confrontation with the past.

Lastly, the Lice trial, also known as a ‘quarter century trial’, which resulted in acquittal, has brought up once more the issue of all these trials that have been opened in the name of confronting the past but resulted in acquittal.

The trials of Nezir Tekçi, Musa Çitil, Görümlü, Cizre JİTEM (Gendarmerie Intelligence Anti-Terrorism Unit), and the Kulp massacre are extremely important regarding the confrontation with the past and well-known by the public. Although they are trials that can shed light on a dark period, they resulted in impunity and were shelved. We have gathered together the trials that have recently resulted in acquittal for the Halagazeteciyiz.net readers.

THE ONLY DEFENDANT IN LICE CASE WAS ACQUITTED

In the Lice district of Diyarbakır the Gendarme Commander Bahtiyar Aydın was killed in an assassination on 22 October 1993. Following the assassination, 16 people died, many houses and work places were burned in the district. The investigation, which was hold by the Prosecutor of Diyarbakır, continued for 20 years and it could be concluded only after 20 years. At the end of the investigation, the prosecutor demanded aggravated life imprisonment and 24 years imprisonment for the Gendarmerie Regimental Commander of the period, retired colonel Eşref Hatipoğlu and the first lieutenant Tünay Yanardağ who were accused of ‘premeditated murder’, ‘inciting people to sedition and killing each other’, ‘establishing an organization with the aim of committing criminal acts’. Because of ‘security’ reasons, on 16th of January 2014 the first court hearing was held in İzmir, hundreds of kilometers away from the district. As Yanardağ died during the prosecution process that continued for four years, there was only one suspect left. Last week, the trial resulted in the acquittal of Hatipoğlu who was the only suspect of the trial. Hatipoğlu is a retired colonel and was the Diyarbakır Gendarmerie Regimental Commander Colonel in that period.

ACQUITTAL FOR SUSPECT’S MISSING UNDER CUSTODY

Nezir Tekçi was taken into custody on 28th of April in 1995 in the Yüksekova district of Hakkari. Nothing was heard from him after detention. The trial of his case became a symbolic one for those that went missing during their detention. In the investigation following his killing firstly, the prosecutor decided not to pursue criminal proceedings. However, due to the testimony of Yunus Şahin who was a soldier when Tekçi was killed, the prosecutor decided the renewal of the criminal proceedings. The retired colonel Ali Osman and the lieutenant colonel Kemal Akın were accused of ‘voluntary manslaughter ferociously and brutally’. In spite of the statement of the witness they were acquitted at the final hearing which was hold on 11th of September 2015, on the grounds that the attributed crime could not be proved.

ACQUITTED OF BURNING VILLAGE

In the Altınova (Vartinis) district of Muş the houses of nine people (one of them pregnant) were burned and all of them died. The prosecution demanded 180 to 230 years’ imprisonment for the defendants. The prosecution accused the defendants (police officers and soldiers) of negligent homicide in his legal opinion. But on 1st of March 2016, at the final proceeding, the prosecutor changed his view and demanded the acquittal of all defendants. In the end all defendants were acquitted.

AT THE 48TH HEARING ACQUITTAL AFTER 22 YEARS

The trial of Cizre JİTEM (Gendarmerie Intelligence Anti-Terrorism Unit) was about the disappearance under custody of 21 people in Cizre between 1993-1995. They were killed and the perpetrator remains unidentified. 10 people, including the Cizre District Gendarmerie Commander, were being sued. But at the final trial, which was hold at the end of 22th year of the event, the defendants were acquitted. The trial had been opened 16 years after the event.

In the Kulp district of Diyarbakır 11 citizens were killed between October

8 and 25 in 1993. The prosecution demanded eleven times the life sentence for the defendant Yavuz Ertürk, retired brigadier general, commander at the time of the Bolu 2nd Commando Brigade who was accused of ‘voluntary manslaughter’. In addition, the prosecution demanded prison sentence up to 25 years for ‘establishing criminal organization to commit crimes’ and ‘inciting the people to armed rebellion’. The trial started in 2013 and ended in September 2018. The verdict was acquittal as it is in the other ‘confrontation with past’ cases.

FIRST ACQUITTAL, THEN PROMOTION

The Gendarmerie Commander of Derik, Brigadier Musa Çitil was sued in 2012. The trial was about making 13 people forcefully disappear in Derik between 1992-1994. He was charged with ‘killing more than one person for the same reason’. At the final trial, on 21 May 2014, he was acquitted. When the trials were held, Musa Çitil was in Gendarmerie Commander of Ankara. Then, according to the Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) decision, he was promoted to Major General on 08 June 2015. Çitil was promoted to Gendarmerie Commander of Diyarbakır on 08 August 2015, and Deputy Commander of Gendarmerie on 22 July 2017.

Then the 23rd Gendarmerie Border Battalion Commander Mete Sayar, the commander of the 1st Mechanized Infantry Battalion in Görümlü , retired colonel Hasan Basri Vural, the commander of the 3rd company, first lieutenant İbrahim Kıraç, captain Murat Ali Yıldız, lieutenant Serdar Tekin from the Kayseri Air Landing Brigade and Tansel Erol from the 2nd Commando Battalion were sued. They were charged with making 6 people forcefully disappear in the Görümlü village of Şırnak. They were charged with ‘killing more than one person for the same reason’. The first hearing was held in 2013. On 3 July 2015 the prosecutor demanded the acquittal of the defendants because of lack of evidence. At the same hearing the court did not give time to the aggrieved to present their opinion against the prosecutor’s legal opinion.

TRIALS ARE DRAGGING ON

Truth Justice Memory Center (Hakikat Adalet Hafıza Merkezi) aims to watch the trials about enforced disappearances and confronting with the past. According to the last report of the center, they reached the case files of 344, whereas the number of unidentified murders in the 90s is thought to be in the thousands.

The report states that the investigation of 218 persons are delayed; the investigations of 24 people ended due to statute of limitation; in the investigation of 18 people, the decision was non-prosecution for other reasons.

Whereas 15 court cases opened against only 84 persons who were charged with enforced disappearance, many of these trials ended up in acquittal. The number of cases that resulted in conviction is limited to two.

Translation: İrem Aki