Members of Diyarbakir Bar Association. Photo: diyarbakirbarosu
ANKARA, Turkey – The trial and investigation into the 1992 murder of prominent Kurdish writer Musa Anter remains flawed, his family’s lawyer has charged, accusing Turkish authorities of trying to pin the killing on a lowly village guard and whitewashing defendants who include former security officials.
“It is obvious that Musa Anter’s murder was not committed by only one temporary village guard,” said Tahir Elci, lawyer for Anter’s family and president of the Diyarbakir Bar Association.
“It is impossible for a village guard to decide to kill such an important writer and commit the murder on his own. The way Anter was killed shows that it was an organized murder planned and committed by a large number of people. But this court tries only 4 people and only one of them has been arrested,” Elci told Rudaw.
Anter, a prominent Kurdish intellectual, politician and journalist who had spent more than 11 years in Turkish prisons for pro-Kurdish activities, was shot dead in September 1992 while attending a festival in Diyarbakir. He was 72. Orhan Miroglu, another writer who was accompanying him, was seriously injured.
In 2006 the European Court of Human Rights found Turkey guilty of violating Anter’s right to life and of not conducting an effective investigation into his death.
The Turkish Gendarmerie Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism Organization (JITEM), whose existence had been denied by the General Staff and other state institutions, is believed to have been responsible for thousands of extrajudicial killings and disappearances of Kurds during the 1980s and 1990s in the Kurdish regions in Turkey.
Twenty years after the murder, Turkey reopened Anter’s case in June 2012 when Hamit Yildirim, a former temporary village guard suspected of murdering him, was caught by police.
The Diyarbakir high criminal court charged Yildirim and three other defendants for the murder: Mahmut Yildirim and Abdulkadir Aygan, former members of the Turkish Gendarmerie Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism Organization (JITEM), and retired colonel Savas Gevrekci.
In the latest court session early this month, only two of the defendants, Hamit Yildirim and Savas Gevrekci, were present.
“This case has been reopened with the efforts of a few lawyers and journalists. But the investigation has been very ineffective and insufficient,” Elci charged.
During cross examination in court, Hamit Yildirim denied killing Anter, having any connection with him or even knowing the other defendants.
Elci said the cross examination had been tense. “I wanted to ask the defendant whether he would feel anger towards someone he thinks is a PKK member but the court objected to my question so I was not allowed to get an answer for this question.”
Despite official denials about its existence, retired colonel Arif Dogan said in court in 2010 that he had founded the gendarmerie's JITEM intelligence unit in the late 1980s on orders by his superiors and Turkey’s interior ministry.
In 2011, Dogan again testified that he had also set up the Kurdish Hezbollah as a contra group to fight and kill militants of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is now in peace talks with the Turkish government after a three-decade insurgency in which 40,000 people were killed.