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Turkish state actors to face retrial over extrajudicial killings of 1990s

Korkut Eken (L) and Mehmet Ağar

A Turkish court has ruled to reverse the acquittal of 19 people including a former interior minister in a trial involving the enforced disappearance or execution of 18 people in Turkey’s Southeast in the 1990s at the hands of Gendarmerie Intelligence and Counterterrorism (JİTEM), Turkish media outlets reported.

In addition to former interior minister and police chief Mehmet Ağar, former military and intelligence officer Korkut Eken will also be retried in line with the ruling of the 1st Criminal Chamber of the Ankara Regional Court dated April 5. The decision became public knowledge on May 23 after the lawyers of some of the defendants were notified.

The Ankara 1st High Criminal Court had ruled in December 2019 to acquit all 19 defendants who faced charges of premeditated murder in line with the activities of an armed criminal gang.

Among the victims of the extrajudicial killings was Savaş Buldan, a Kurdish politician who was the husband of pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Pervin Buldan, Kurdish mob boss Behçet Cantürk and Kurdish businessman Hacı Karay,

The activities of JİTEM had first been acknowledged officially by former prime ministers Bülent Ecevit and Mesut Yılmaz following the Susurluk incident, a fatal car crash that exposed links between state officials and organized crime bosses.

JİTEM was later accused of involvement in the torture, disappearance and execution of Kurdish politicians and businesspeople during the 1990s, a period of bloody conflict between the state and Kurdish militants.

In the meantime head of the Human Rights Association (İHD) Öztürk Türkdoğan called on Turkish prosecutors to issue an arrest warrant for Ağar on the grounds that he poses a flight risk due to the decision for his retrial.

Ağar is a gang leader, he said.

Ağar and Eken are some of the state actors mentioned in the videos of Sedat Peker, a mafia leader, as having been involved in a series of crimes including murder and drug trafficking.

Peker, the head of one of Turkey’s most powerful mafia groups who was once a staunch supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has since early May been setting the country’s political agenda through videos he posts on YouTube, each of which reaches over a million viewers on the first day of their release.

The mafia boss, who lives in Dubai and is the subject of an outstanding warrant in Turkey, has been making shocking revelations about state-mafia relations and drug trafficking and murders implicating state officials.

His latest video, posted on Sunday, has already been watched by more than 10 million people.

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