Mine facts increase victims' families' pain

Mine facts increase victims' families' pain
Mine facts increase victims' families' pain

shaken once again by revelations that the mines were planted by the Turkish military and not by terrorists from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) as the General Staff had previously announced.

Halil Özevin, father of slain soldier Kemal Özevin, said they did not want to believe the voices in the recorded conversation of two commanders who talked about the mines and how they were planted by the military.

"I didn't want to believe it. I prayed that what was said by the recorded voice was not the truth," he said, and added that he had cried as he listened to the conversation, which was published on the Internet. "I wish the mines had belonged to the PKK," the father said. "I had entrusted my son to his commanders."

Özevin also said his son's commanders had never called him to express their condolences. Still, he said the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) should not be under suspicion because of the incident and that those responsible for wrongdoing should be punished. The investigation was started upon the disclosure of the recorded conversation between the two commanders about the mine blast. Ziya Bener and Raziye Demirci, who each lost a son in the explosion, then filed a criminal complaint with the prosecutor's office.

Following the complaint about the mine blast on May 27 last year in Çukurca in the Eastern province of Hakkari, Van prosecutors completed an investigation and found out that the mines belonged to the Turkish military. The prosecutors, who stated that the mines were planted on the orders of a Turkish commander, demanded that Brig. Gen. Zeki Es, Maj. Gen. Gürbüz Kaya, whose name is also mentioned in relation to the Sledgehammer coup plot, and other responsible people should be punished for causing the death of more than one person because of negligence.

Ahmet Türk: If issues are illuminated tension would be reduced

Former head of the now-defunct Democratic Society Party (DTP) Ahmet Türk has said the people responsible for the mine blast should be held accountable as soon as possible to relieve tension in society. "If the necessary investigations had been conducted before events had cooled down and the public had been informed in a timely manner, tension would not have arisen," he said in regard to the land mine explosion that killed seven soldiers last year. It was recently revealed that the blast had been caused by mines planted by the Turkish military, contrary to the earlier widely held belief that they had been planted by outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorists.

Türk also mentioned that the incident was "serious" and might also be an act to prevent a peaceful solution to the Kurdish problem. Because of the public indignation over the deaths of the soldiers, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan cancelled an appointment with Türk on possible solutions to the Kurdish problem on May 29, two days after the mine blast. The DTP was believed to have had ties with the PKK. The incident was also revealed with the help of a retired officer who claimed the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) covered up many incidents caused in part by its weaponry and put the blame on the PKK.

There was also an administrative investigation by the Land Forces Command, which indicated that the mines were planted on orders from commanders. The General Staff at the time of the blast made a statement that the mines had been planted by PKK terrorists who had crossed into Turkey from northern Iraq. As the Van Prosecutor's Office has completed its investigation, the General Staff's Military Prosecutor's Office can now open a case against the defendants in accordance with Article 85 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK), which says: "Someone who causes the death of a person due to negligence can be punished with three to six years. If the act causes more than one person's death, then the punishment can be from three to 15 years." Habib Güler Ankara

Since the civilian court lacked jurisdiction over the matter, the case file was sent to the Military Prosecutor's Office. The Van prosecutor's report said the mines were produced by the Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation (MKE) and had batteries used in military radios and parts from 120 mm mortar munitions. The report also stated that there was a telephone conversation between Es and Kaya indicating that the mines were planted by people who were responsible for administrative issues and security concerning the soldiers.

İsmail Yıldız, the father of slain soldier Adil Yıldız, said the voice recording that was published on the Internet had not been denied by the General Staff. "Nobody has denied it. The wrongdoers should be punished. The people that we entrusted our sons to only sent us the bodies of our sons," he said. "We expect an explanation from the General Staff."

Nail Çelik, the father of slain Cafer Çelik, reiterated Yıldız's remarks and feelings.

Kıymet Dumlu and Abdülkadir Dumlu were also shaken by the news of the death of their son Özkan Dumlu. "Can you sleep well at night?" they said, expressing their dismay with the commanders who might be involved in the death of their son.

Dumlu's brother Ayhan demanded that the president and the prime minister finish off Ergenekon, a clandestine terrorist network believed to have ties in all institutions of the state. The soldiers' families also expressed solidarity and said they all want to be involved in the investigation.

Key suspect's ties questioned

The name of War Academies Deputy Commander Gen. Yurdaer Olcan, a key suspect in the Sledgehammer investigation, has been linked to the mine blast in Çukurca. According to claims, the voice recordings also included the voice of Olcan, the highest-ranking active duty officer so far arrested in the two investigations currently under way into plots to overthrow the government.

There are three separate telephone conversations that were published on the Internet. In the first one, Es said he planted the mines while Kaya said their plan had been put into practice. In the second telephone conversation, a Lt. Col. Taner told Gen. Es that they told their superior officers that it was the PKK who had planted the mines. In the third telephone conversation, a person who is believed to be Olcan tells Es that those conversations had been recorded.

Mustafa Gürlek, Metin Arslan / Today's Zaman

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