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Turkish-Armenian soldier to be laid to rest Wednesday

ISTANBUL – Daily News with wires | 4/27/2011 12:00:00 AM |

A Turkish Armenian soldier who died Sunday when his friend’s gun allegedly discharged accidentally will be laid to rest Wednesday in Istanbul’s Şişli district.

A Turkish-Armenian soldier who died Sunday when his friend’s gun allegedly discharged accidentally will be laid to rest Wednesday in Istanbul’s Şişli district.

Sevag Şahin Balıkçı had only 23 days left on his military service in the southeastern province of Batman when he was allegedly shot by mistake by his friend as the two were joking around, daily Radikal reported Tuesday.

Sevag Balıkçı and other soldiers at the garrison were trying to fix the surrounding fences damaged by floods and were joking with each other when his best friend’s weapon discharged a bullet that struck the soldier in the stomach.

The Gendarmerie General Command announced Tuesday that it was planning to invite the dead private’s family to the police station where he died for a private meeting with his commanders and friends, Anatolia news agency reported.

An official ceremony was organized Monday for the dead soldier in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.

An account of the event sent to the family by the military said the soldier had died “a martyr.”

“I don’t see my son as a martyr. A martyr does not die from a bullet in an accident,” the soldier’s father, Garabet Balıkçı, told daily Radikal.

While many media outlets noted that the incident occurred on April 24, the day Armenians remember their kin who were killed during World War I in the Ottoman Empire, the soldier’s family members have refused to relate the two events to one another.

“It is a pity that the press is emphasizing the subject by connecting my son’s death with the anniversary of the 1915 events,” Garabet Balıkçı told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Tuesday.

Garabet Balıkçı said they had called their son shortly before the fatal incident and added that he had not mentioned any concerns. Still, he said he wanted the death to be investigated.

Sevag Balıkçı’s funeral will be held Wednesday at the Surp Vartananzs Armenian Church in Şişli’s Feriköy neighborhood.

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